Paška

When the sun rose over the Mediterranean this morning and moved above a tiny village on a long and narrow island, it marked a special day for one of the hundred souls in it.

I first met Paška in 1975, when I was three. I’m less certain about when exactly she adopted me, but it must have happened shortly thereafter, because my earliest memories of her are a tight embrace and the words “Ti si moj”. You’re mine.

And I was. I am. Although the only blood that connects us is the one she tirelessly cleaned off my scraped knees and elbows, she is as much a family as anyone I have ever had and one of the very few ones I still do. I lived with her, in the only house from my childhood that I continue to go to, the place of unconditional love and the best pastasciutta there ever was or will be.

But, mostly, I lived somewhere else. I jumped on the world with the youthful hunger that could never be stilled, bouncing off its most remote edges and never getting enough. And I always came back and told her about it all. About the raging seas, the icy mountaintops, about the whales, the gorillas and the lions. About buildings so big it would take hours to walk to the top and the bridges so long you couldn’t even see what was on the other side. And we would sit there, in front of our stone house and under the lemon tree, the heavy summer heat slowly dancing away into the night and she would kiss me on the forehead and we would both know that our little village probably still is the nicest place in the world.

Years kept flying by and marking us both. Now it’s me who kisses her on the forehead. Now it’s me who holds her in a tight embrace. And now I tell her that she’s mine.

Paška turned 100 today. One hundred years old. And I’m on yet another island, in yet another sea and I can’t wait to tell her all about it.

When the sun rose over the Mediterranean this morning and moved above a tiny village on a long and narrow island, it marked a special day for another one of the hundred souls in it.

In a perfect harmony, our little neighbor Paško is celebrating his very first birthday today. Paška and Paško. Hundred years old and one year old. And I can’t help but to think about the stories he will have to tell us all one day. And I just know that when that day comes, Paška and I will be listening, in the shade of the lemon tree, over the incessant song of the crickets, in a tight embrace.