It was time to fly the coop. After 3 months with a lovely family in Tearce and 7 months with my kind host family here in Dibër, I got that feeling butterflies get when it’s time to leave the chrysalis, that fetuses have when birth must happen now. I needed to move to my own space. Now!
In Dibër I had my own unit within the family home. I had a modicum of privacy, and my host family was able to help me, for example, with calls for a taxi, a reservation on the kombi (van) if I needed to travel, and with many other aspects of getting to know the ropes. Lidi, my host mom, brought me occasional servings of food she had cooked, telling me their names, and she is an excellent cook. The walls of the house were thin, so I could hear conversations, especially loud ones, and I could also hear Lidi’s wonderful laugh. My space was too small, and it had many problems, but it eased me into my life in the community. But now it was definitely time to move.
At first I wasn’t sure I could find somewhere else to live. The market in Dibër is tight, and a lot of landlords don’t want to be paid Peace Corps rates. But just before being completely discouraged, all of a sudden I had four good places to choose from!! It was quite a luxurious situation. After thinking it all over, I decided to opt for the one I loved, though any of the four would have worked fine.There are disadvantages to the one I chose. It’s farther from my school than my previous residence. It will probably be more challenging to heat because it’s big and old. It hadn’t been lived in for some time, so some features needed repair. This could be an ongoing discovery process. But I kept coming back to its spacious feel, the fact that it has a yard, that is has wonderful big windows that, when open, make the room feel almost like it’s outside. And a huge plus is that it stays cool in the heat of summer. I also really like the landlords, a lovely couple nearing retirement, and who now live in Skopje.
With help from my friends and the horse taxi, I transported my goods only a few blocks.I moved into the first floor of the house, though they said I could roam the whole house if I liked, looking for things I needed. The big windows are covered with curtains that I hear came from Greece years ago.My windows’ version of double glazing: There is the long sectional couch that’s in every Macedonian or Albanian home. Plus a sitting room.The bed is big and comfortable. I have perhaps the nicest bathroom in Peace Corps anywhere. And a big win: I have a real kitchen with a real stove that has a real oven!I even have a balcony!Soon I discovered that one of my favorite spots in the house is at the window of my bedroom. The view is gorgeous! If I stand at the window and look down, I am looking just beyond my back yard at the neighbor’s chickens and vegetable garden.The chickens provide a soundtrack to my days here, with the rooster crowing at various intervals, and the hens announcing loudly when they’ve laid an egg. The rest of the time, they’re just singing like chickens do.
Some birds have a nest in one of the big trees back there, and are quite busy throughout the branches. I haven’t yet gotten a good look at them to see what they are. There is a big pink rosebush near the entrance of the house. Aromatic alfalfa grows all around the rosebush.In the back, I have sweet-smelling red clover, and the bees are always busy back there. So after repairs, visiting with cups of coffee, some worker no-shows, more coffee, and some adjusting of the house contents, I’m now getting settled. A washing machine is coming, as are screens for two of my windows. I can now start personalizing the space. First things first: I have a water dish outside that started out for the birds. But once I realized the birds can fly to the continually flowing water here, it ended up being for the cats that visit my yard frequently and lie in the shade.Typically when I have a yard, I have constant thoughts about what I can plant. And a creeping thought is floating in and out with frequency: how feasible would it be to get chickens, just a few? But my thoughts are always framed by the fact that I’m not here forever. Inside the house, I’m trying to decide where to hang all the different-sized sheep bells I’ve bought.One of my main projects this summer, aside from learning better Albanian, is to make games and activities for my school. These will be materials I will leave with the school for future use when I’m gone. This house is very conducive to that kind of work, with its big table and open floor space.Another feature of this house is that I have no less than four fold-out beds from the extensive couch situation in my living room and sitting room. Three of them are doubles. This is not counting the big couches in the lower level, or the 5 beds on the second floor. I can have company! I can have a family reunion!
I can stay here a while!
“If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it!” –Mary Oliver