I was wandering through Baščaršija looking for a café where I could have a coffee and read my book yesterday afternoon. I didn’t have to go in to my internship, and I wanted to spend some time walking, reflecting, and relaxing as my time in Sarajevo is drawing to a close. I visited Café Metropolis on Tito Street earlier in the week and enjoyed the welcome air-conditioning and Wi-fi on a hot day, so I decided to visit their location in Baščaršija to pass some time. On the way, I was thinking about home; contemplating how I felt about going back to the States soon and wondering (as usual) if I “should” be feeling differently.
I often find myself in this tension between how I’m feeling and how I think “should” be feeling. I want to give significant space in my life right now for the things I’m experiencing that are different because I’m in a new place; a complicated place where conversations always come back to the war, even 20 years later. Life is lived differently in Sarajevo than it is in Firth, Nebraska, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Budapest, Hungary. I want to make sure that I’m paying attention, even to the little interactions I have with people here, learning as much as I can from others and gaining as much from my short time here as possible. This leads me to judge myself a bit harshly, and also to think that I “should” want to be here all of the time, and not miss home or try to spend too much time thinking about home and communicating with people at home.
That said... Café Metropolis serves Američki Palačinke, or American Pancakes. I decided for once, that I need to give myself a break from forcing myself to try to have the most authentic BOSNIAN experience in Sarajevo. I let myself eat some American pancakes, and it was incredibly healing. I was reminded of lovely experiences at home; breakfast in bed on the first day of school, IHOP free pancake day with college roommates, and eating gourmet pancakes with hipsters on the weekends in Grand Rapids. It’s not bad to appreciate pancakes. These experiences (and many more that may or may not involve pancakes) are all a part of the reason why I am here today; of the person that I have become. It’s not wrong for me to experience a piece of my own culture in Sarajevo, to be reminded of these things. The mere fact that I am in Sarajevo makes this a Sarajevan experience. I can add this to my cultural explorations. There’s no reason to feel guilty; there are just pancakes here, too.