Come on in, come on in!
This door is the 15th in a row that I open with equal certainty that I will find my home inside. The only thing that changes in that picture is the geographical coordinates between five cities in now two countries, which were one country when I was born. For some reason, that “one” country, Yugoslavia, is a part of my identity more than all the new ones that will begin to exist after Yugoslavia ended. I cry when I hear the unofficial partisan anthem – In the forests and mountains, but also the official anthem of that country – Hey Slavs, which was sung for a long time during my growing up. After Tito’s death, presidents from all federal states rotated, and at the time when I was born, it was Bosnia and Herzegovina’s turn to give one, that was President Raif Dizdarevic, still alive today. At that time, I didn’t even know that this city existed, which was then called Tito’s Uzice, now it doesn’t have the name of the biggest symbol of that country, only a monument remains, well hidden from public view in the museum park. So, welcome to Tito’s Uzice in Yugoslavia or just Uzice in Serbia. In the spirit of the times, my personal history somehow becomes similar, but with the breakup of my parents’ marriage, not a country.
There were all kinds of doors in the past. These as you can see are nothing special, they are wooden with glass and do not seal well. It is easy and quite cheap to solve this problem in DIY style, but until winter comes and a significant amount of heat starts to leave me, this problem will not be a priority. Take 1 step forward and you are in the centre of the hallway. The hallway is relatively small, in front, you can see a shoe storage with a wall pin for storing jackets and coats.
On the right side of the shoe storage, is a narrow passage in the shape of the letter S. Let’s go there—after 6 steps you will find yourself in the toilet. First, you see the washing machine, next to it is the sink, then the toilet bowl, and finally the shower cabin. This is the most beautiful toilet of all 15 I have had. As you can see, it is quite spacious, beautifully styled with dark green and white tiles as an imitation of marble.
You can go back the same way and you’ll find yourself in the hallway again. There are two identical white doors. Take 2 steps to the left and open the door. Take another 2 steps and you are in the bedroom. There is one wooden closet in the corner, two beds on two sides of the room. This first bed, which is one step away from the door, is a two-seater and I sleep on it. The other bed is almost always empty. Once a month if my brother comes, he sleeps on it or my mother when she comes on vacation once a year. When I came to see this apartment in September, one of the first things I noticed was the label on that bed that said: ‘single men’. I didn’t like it at all and I believe it’s more comfortable than the one I sleep on, but only because of that label I didn’t choose it.
You can notice that there was a family with small children here before us—just raise your head and you will see the ceiling lamp with a SpongeBob. The walls are, as you can see, green.
I enter the room when it’s time to sleep, I never turn on the light. If I’m still not ready to sleep, I always have a book under the pillow and a lamp on the edge of the bed. I am currently sleeping with Karl Sandberg, an American poet, and his book – Interpretation of Love. When I wake up in the morning the room is just as dark, I take 2 steps forward and open the window wide. After observing what the morning is like I take 3 steps out of the room into the hallway and close the door behind me.
At least half a day later, I’ll go back inside to close the window and I will enter it again only when it’s time to sleep. I don’t know if it’s because of the green walls, the bed called ‘single men’, but I still haven’t been able to like this room and I’m not even trying to.
After you find yourself in the hallway again, this time there is a door 2 steps ahead of you but this one never closes. Take 5 steps and you will find yourself in the middle of the living room-kitchen-dining room—the central space. Here are the salmon-coloured walls, a very unusual choice but as you can see very pleasant to stay.
Start a slow 360-degree turn to your right. There is a beautiful white desk behind the door, logically if I told you that the door never closes it is impossible to use it. It was standing in my room in the previous apartment and I really needed it, so I wouldn’t work on the floor or the bed, but it lost its role here, and it’s strange how. Depending on the context, some things, and sometimes even people, lose their roles. Simply new paradigms dictate new needs and some old ones become completely unnecessary.
Next to this table, there is another one that also does not have its role. A large dining table with three chairs because one side, as you can see, is leaning against the wall. I haven’t used a dining table since childhood and I really think it’s completely unnecessary when you don’t live with your family and when you’re not a big hedonist. It just takes up space. I recently started buying flowers and putting them on it and it finally got some function. Before that it was just something that stands there in the absence of a better solution or extra space to store unnecessary things.
Please continue to turn. Now, directly across from the dining table are two armchairs, a table, and a two-seater. I spend almost the whole day in a two-seater if I’m at home. There is a computer which I occasionally move a little towards the edge of the table to free up space to lower the plate, so that’s where I usually eat. From this place, I have a complete overview of the apartment, I also see the front door, so when someone announces that he will come before the bell rings I see the silhouette behind the glass. People often come convinced that in addition to being their friend, I am also an excellent psychiatrist. They are sitting in an armchair across from me—which would be strange in an office, a two-seater should be for them. But my house, my rules. I watch, I listen, I advise: the essence is that you constantly return them to what they say themselves because the key to all the solutions is already in them, they just didn’t realize it, or they aren’t ready to hear it. You are just navigating. I don’t know who first assigned me that role, but let’s say that it became my hobby and that I actually learn a lot about human nature in those confessions, and that always interested me.
Let’s move on to the other corner. It is occupied by a bookshelf, exactly flush with my two-seater. I think it’s a temple of literature, it certainly looks funny to you because you see about fifty books that aren’t even arranged in a normal way. There is one external room that is not used, full of books from floor to ceiling. The books in that room were packed in bags, sacks, boxes, and if unpacked, all the walls in the apartment would be filled. Even if I had enough shelves, I wouldn’t do it because I don’t think they deserve that kind of treatment. When you write, like my mother and I, and her sister and my uncle, it is inevitable to have thousands of books, some that you bought, some that you wrote, some gifts; you also have books that were beautiful to you, books that you received with the purchase of daily newspapers; there are also books that everyone must have, probably also books that someone lent you but you forgot to whom you should return them. Then add to all that the books of the deceased, in this case, dad and grandpa; books that we received in the inheritance because the one who has many books thus becomes the most logical heir. Instead, I chose several books that marked a part of my life. If a fire broke out, to use that metaphor, not all of them would be on the rescue list, I would only take Kafka. I would need to save his book from the flames because Kafka left his private library to a friend with a note to burn them all his (Kafka’s) death. I always thought that if he wanted everything to be burned, he should’ve do it himself, instead of asking others to do it.
Next to the shelf begins an arch with bricks that belongs more to a church than an apartment. Take 5 steps forward to enter a small kitchen. It is a space that I use the most because I am a passionate cook and I am sorry that the one who built the house did not have that in mind. Compacted next to each other, you see first the stove, then the sink and cabinets, and finally the refrigerator. Let’s go under the arch and return now with 5 steps to the centre of the living room.
You noticed that we rotated and skipped the terrace door, I intentionally left that for last. Let’s take 4 steps and go out on the terrace. If the weather is nice, you will usually find me here after lunch—I sit on the chair and read, drink coffee or white wine until sunset, then I close the book and read the most beautiful poem of the sun, I never get bored. Take a look (click here to see the view; upload here what you see in your space).
Let’s go back inside one more time now. Do you notice anything strange? The apartment is too foreign. There are no family photos, no sculptures, and paintings—which is especially strange for an artistic family—no gifts from dear people or souvenirs from travel. There are not even carpets or curtains. Everything looks like temporary accommodation, like a shelter in case of danger, a place where you will hide from the rain, where you can sleep and eat, take a shower. Function, not aesthetics. Remember entering the apartment, I told you that this is already my fifteenth living space. With time, you realize that nothing is final. In ten years, if I could take you through the apartment again, it could be in China or Cambodia, it could be a villa on an island or a log cabin on a mountain; I could live with my husband and children in a small apartment in the suburbs of the city; or be single, a homeless person somewhere in the centre of the city at the metro station. That wouldn’t change anything. Your home is where you are. You load the meaning into objects, spaces, locations. To be me, means to be someone to whom the planet is home, who belongs everywhere but also nowhere, who is somewhere in between. Your skin is the only important house, as long as it is beautiful for you, the streets, neighbourhoods, cities, state borders, continents, and planets are irrelevant.
ALTERNATE VIEWS (images uploaded by visitors)