This won’t have a clear beginning, just as it doesn’t have an end. Keeping in touch with people from my past is quite frankly a difficult and daunting task, and likewise, formulating posts that share my daily life seems ridiculous. So, as a side effect of that and my never-ending lack of free time, the decision to not post just makes sense. Why is today any different? Well, as today is my 500th day abroad, I feel that it’s worthy of a post.
In the past months, reminders of the blog and how my artwork seems to have tapered have been constant. The truth is that I just don’t know what to talk about. What may be interesting to you might bore me, and vise versa. I’m not a writer, nor have I ever pretended to be, and though I initially wanted to start this blog to tell my story, to draw a narrative from my daily experiences, the success has been… less than desired. Mainly due to lack of consistency on my part. So, what do I tell you? About my daily routines? A painting that I’ve been working on lately? What’s happened in my life and where I’ve gone? I’m so clueless and overwhelmed that it can be paralyzing at times.
My last post was in April. In it, I shared about a new motorcycle that I’d purchased, some short roadtrips, recent sketches, a brief mention of relationship, and little else. Since that time, my life seems to have changed quite a bit. I still have the motorcycle, though I need a part that so far, I’ve been unable to find (online or otherwise). Some roadtrips have happened to various parts of Serbia, Romania, south to Greece, and into Bosnia. I’ve met some amazing people and partook in relationships that each improved me bit by bit. My artwork has gone through a rollercoaster of ups and downs both in jobs and level of skill/practice. Most recently, I took on a job managing the hostel where I was previously painting in Belgrade, Serbia, and have been working to merge it with an artist residency of sorts. But still, where to begin? What is important enough that I tell you, or interesting enough to capture your attention and poke at your imagination?
In May, I, with my friends Tom and Jelena, went on a road trip to Djerdap, a national park in Serbia. We stuffed a mattress into the back of his car, packed a tent for me, some bags with the essentials and my cameras, and took off for a few days. The trip itself was composed of driving through little villages, along the breathtaking and heavily vegetated banks of the Danube, and eventually taking his car off-road into the mountains where we camped for 3 days. The scenery was breathtaking, the air was fresh, and I didn’t want to leave when the time came.
Later in the month, I met an Australian named Dominique who takes the most amazing photography and has a way with words that makes every sentence come to life. From her fiery red hair to her collection of dresses, songs made up of random words, and insane hunger for adventure, I was hooked on her. Leading to me spending more time than I should have with her, although it seemed right at the time so I didn’t care. In the end, I learned so much about myself and others in the process. We spent what seemed like 2 weeks nonstop together and even went to Romania for around a week before returning to Serbia. She told me of her past experiences, showed me photos, photographed me, let me fill my sketchbook with her, and encouraged me to be a better person. Ultimately, we split ways after she went to Romania for a job and I stayed behind, but I’ll never forget the moments we had. Like when she would sit in front of me so I could draw someone behind her, or when we spent part of an afternoon chasing the perfect sunlight for a photo of me. Or driving through the Romanian countryside with her pointing out the places that she remembered from her previous time there. There were good times and bad, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
June and July were mostly just working on little things at the hostel and trying to draw more, with the end of June marking the beginning of me managing the place I had grown to love over time, Fair and Square Hostel. Little else happened until the end of July, when again, Tom, Jelena, one of Jelena’s annoying friends from Argentina, and I went on another road trip. This time, taking a bus from Belgrade to Pefki, in Greece. The seats were the best possible, with us sitting on the top deck of the bus in the frontmost seats possible. We had the air vents (which meant nobody else did) and more leg room (plus aisle space) than anyone else on the bus. Greece was great. Beautiful sunsets, plenty of hidden waterfalls, cheap scooter rentals, and so so many gyros. We stayed 2 weeks before heading back to the non-beach-having city of Belgrade… Hoorah.
From that point on, I would have to say that I’ve been heavily focused on the hostel itself with my own artwork sprinkled in. A new mural was started, then painted over by an asshole rival artist in the city, another painting was done for a local bar that had just opened, and little works were also done here and there. As for the hostel, I brought in other artists to add their own touch, put my own skills to work improving the hostel itself (both technologically and in terms of building new things/improving what was already here), worked on partnerships with neighboring cities both in and outside of Serbia, and just tried to make this place somewhere that people will remember and recommend. Somewhere that people want to see, not just a place to sleep and drink cheap beer.
Currently, I just finished celebrating Christmas with some newfound friends and I’m feeling pretty good about life. No, I don’t have any plans on returning to the States any time soon. I like life abroad and with so many places that I haven’t seen, why go back now? I miss my family and some of my friends, but they’re always welcome to come visit me here (or somewhere else in Europe if that works better). I think I’ll end this here. The past 500 days have been some of my best and I look forward to 500 more!