This morning I woke up after like 2 hours of sleep with a champagne hangover, but I dragged myself out of bed anyway, because my friend L invited me to come to Brezice today for a walk.
There is a group in Brezice for mentally ill people which is called Ozara. My friend L goes there, and he asked me to come today to walk with the people from this group and so they could meet me. I visited Ozara last week, when my friend was teaching English there. But I was late, so I only met one person.
The train did not run at the hour I had to go, so I had to hitchhike, twice.
The first person let me off too far from Brezice, the second was a nice lady who took me right there, but I was half an hour late.
They had already gone, but a woman at Ozara called them on their mobile and they waited at Brezice castle for me to catch up with them. L was so happy that I had come and hugged me. There were about 8 or 9 other people and they could not really speak English, but were glad to meet me.
We march down to the Sava rippling in the breeze, and walk along its grassy banks. Bad time of year for walking; manuring fields, clouds of gnats. We brush them off of each other’s backs. Everyone is happy I came, especially two women Suzana and Natasha. Suzana has some kind of compulsive disorder that makes her repeat words and actions a lot, but is very friendly and nice, and Natasha is pleasantly sarcastic and peppers me with questions in half-formed English. The others didn’t talk so much, but they accepted me immediately and I didn’t feel awkward at all the way I usually do when I meet people.
We march. It’s tiring because I was up too late last night drinking champagne and staring at the moon (I honestly need to do that more. It sounds romantic) and I feel a little sick. But they accepted me immediately and I didn’t feel awkward at all the way I usually do when I meet people.
Finally we get back to Ozara headquarters, which is a nice blue three-story house in the old part of Brezice. It’s a bit hot and I feel hung over and sleepy, but everyone LOVES me.
I feel protective of them, just like I do about L. They all seem so vulnerable.
I sit down on a couch and Natasha and Suzana squeeze in on either side until we’re all crammed together, and L is a bit put out because he wanted to sit next to me but neither of them will move even when the boss lady tells them to, and they have a big argument about it in Slovene which nobody translates for my benefit, but it all ends in laughs.
L will not be defeated, he lures me away from the couch and into the kitchen for a drink so he could have me for himself.
So this is what it feels like to be popular and have everyone want to be near you. I’ve often wondered what that’s like.
Later on, I take L and Suzana out for lunch. Neither of them has any money so I pay for everything. I’m not exactly flush either, mind you, but I don’t mind sacrificing a little so they can have a good time. Suzana obsessively pores over everything on the menu until we have to sneak it away from her, and we have to choose for her what to drink and eat because she can’t make decisions. But she enjoys the pizza, and keeps telling me so, over and over, for the whole walk back.
Maybe I’ve found my tribe, and they’re a bunch of weirdos.
I like them.