for Doncho Ivanof

has it really been over a year since i visited montenegro again? i wish i were there right now. i could climb the hundreds of steps of the ruined city and maybe Doncho Ivanof would still be there, having slept another winter in the holes of the stone walls. when i climbed the ancient steps last year i was startled by the man sitting there, nearly at the top of the old ruined city, in what he referred to as his “garden”. he had this centipede in his hand which he claimed had stung him moments before. he held the creature patiently, “waiting to see if its bite would hurt him”. i gave Doncho some tea, which he insisted must be in the photo i would take of his friend in hand. he talked to me about many many things, and tried to get me to stay in his little garden. he spoke quickly about the “frequency” of knowledge, and sexual energy, and history. he somehow knew that i had two little brothers from my mother and a different father. and he guessed many other personal facts after having at with me for only moments.

when i asked him where he had learned so much english he told me he had learned in jail, in Israel, although Doncho is Macedonian. I finally had to leave him in his garden with the broken umbrella flapping in the wind, which he humorously told me was his pet bird- “neever mind neever mind, that ies jus my pet bird, and dis ies my garden”. He showed me the cubbies he had slept in that winter, which i marveled at because it snows there in the winter. I finally had to squeeze my way out of his world so i could finish my climb to the top and photograph the ruins and the city before the sun got too high. It was not easy to get away from Doncho, and he made me promise that i would stop and talk to him again on the way down.

Heading back down i asked if i could take his photo. he said he would only do it if i was in the photo too. i declined, because i was scared to get too close, i admit. but there is still a part of me that wishes i had done it anyway. as i climbed back down the steep and narrow stairs to city below, Doncho came running out on one of the ruined walls over my head, yelling to me that he had forgotten to give me his address in Macedonia so i could write to him- at which point i took his photo. i thought i would go back the next day and say goodbye to Doncho, but i didn’t make it back up the stairs.

A few weeks ago i had a dream that i was in montenegro again and a woman offered me a waitress job in her restaurant. In the dream my heart leaped and sank in the same moment. what a dream, to live and work in montenegro!
but in the dream i knew i had to come back to america and go to school… how silly.

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