sweden to croatia, 2009 to 1996 – and back

I sit in my kitchen by a wood stove in Marma, Sweden and turn on an old radio, my daughter sitting at the table eating salami and Chinese noodles with ketchup with her fingers, all her toys in the freezer.

And the Red Hot Chili Peppers song Soul to Squeeze comes on, and I am immediately in eight separate points in time – I see the video, I see my dorm room in college, I see a half-wrecked volunteer house in Croatia, I see myself running in the wooded hills around the wretched home for disabled children in an old Croatian castle where my then-girlfriend suffered her own isolation and dread.

I think this must happen to people who move a lot, who live in different types of places, not just different places.  They move through not just time but space when that random old song comes on the radio.

Here in Marma, there is also something to the rural European countryside, the fire, the old radio, that takes me back to Pakrac, that little blasted town where I spent the better part of three years.  And from Pakrac, every memory that follows is loaded by a Balkan energy and fear.

All that time I spent visiting illiterate old ladies in blown up shacks, and now I own a place with a fire stove, a walk to the toilet, cold floors and rustling trees, and every new song on that radio hits me hard (yes, it was a classic rock station.  yes, this is the music of my adolescence.  yes, I am getting old.)

But that is all beside the point.  For I have not listened to a radio for years, especially in a house, not a car.  Now I have enough silence for the radio.  Now I have enough silence to time travel.

Oh, wait, the toddler just turned off the radio.  I have to go play with cold toys just out of the freezer.

That is good too.


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