I arrived in Ljubljana today, for the first time in three years. Being back is really strange. The city has changed, and yet it is the same. New people, old people, new smells, old smells. Places that I remember, places that have come, places that no longer exist.
I am staying with my old friend João in a big flat in Slovenska Cesta. He has always been a creative and innovative mind full of bright ideas and projects in relations to Balkan and Slovene culture and society. He lives with a group of similarly minded people full of creative and artistic talent. I have yet to meet them, but from the place itself it is obvious that I am staying with people who do not conform to the normality. It is dirty, but clean, it is exciting to walk around – taking a notice to all the little oddities in each corner.
What might be most surprising is that this small creative community owns not only a dog, but also a pig. She is a small female named Peka and she runs around grunting and cleaning the floor with her big and long piggy nose.
I’ve been here for two days and had a chance to do a bit of sightseeing. An electronics festival was taking place yesterday in the middle of Slovenska Cesta. As the street is often traffic jammed, it was amazing to experience how families were playing in the middle of the street, while people were engaging in the music. Several bands were playing on a large stage, and everything seemed so damned cosy and relaxed.
I’ve had the chance to visit some of my old colleagues and the guys who were a part of the project. It was in many ways strange to see these people again, because they had been such an integral part of my life for an entire year. However, it was wonderful to hear how so many of them had succeeded. How the project had truly helped them figure out what they wanted to do and where they wanted to go. Today, many of them are engaging in further education or have procured proper jobs. Knowing that makes me so unthinkably happy.
I also got to meet up with Mitja. we have stayed in sporadic contact over the years, but I haven’t seen him for so long. Of all the people I met in Slovenia, he was the one who came to mean the most to me. I am so happy to know that he is doing well. But I also know that with the financial crisis Slovenia has been hit hard, which in turn has affected him. yet, he is strong and smart and I know he will do great. He has to because he has been a detrimental part of my life at a time when I was just coming to know myself.
Change of plans
It has been such an emotional visit to Ljubljana, and though it has been fantastic to renew old friendships and see all those places that I so love, I feel as if both Ljubljana and I have moved on. I am not the same. And neither is this beautiful city. While I will always keep a special place in my heart for the Slovenian capital and consider it my second home, I will also have to admit that visiting again has been hard, and I have decided to shorten my stay and travel to Budapest earlier than planned.
Staying for more than a few days in Ljubljana will make me truely realise all those things that have changed and all the things that will never return. Only three years have passed since what I am sure will be my most defining year as young adult. Hopefully in another couple of years as I return again, it will be different, but for now I need to keep my memories of Ljubljana intact.
At the same time my home calls out for me. For the first time since I was a kid, I have come to truly appreciate my home city. Copenhagen has never felt like home before and I’ve never had the deep and defining friendships at home as here in Ljubljana. But I have a feeling that this might be about to change. My dream of far away destinations has been pushed to the back and in stead I’ve developed a great need to discover Copenhagen and enjoy the Danish summer with friends and family.
This however does not mean that I am not looking forward to my visit to Budapest and my travel to Caucasus later in the summer.