Did you see that grin? Who was that person? That was me, before I officially tied the knot. Well, sort of. I have known my Albanian for well over seventeen years now, lived in approximately six houses together (and in the process of building a seventh). I've been married to him three times, had two Albanian boys with him, and discovered that I am indeed a rare breed amongst other Albanians and Americans, I am a hybrid. Let us examine this further.
Well before I ever stepped foot in Europe as a fresh-faced backpacker, I had a dream that has remained in my heart since that day. Here's how it went: A blanket of beautiful light filled the dream, like it was an endless sunset, lending warmth to everything. I was happy and glowing like the air around me. I was painting in a very large Mediterranean red-roofed house, on a large piece of land. It seemed like my home. I stood looking at a canvas I had been painting with a wet brush in my hand, and remembered I had to go feed my goat tied up in the yard. I had a feeling I loved that goat. It was Paradise. And there, under the largest olive tree was the goat. I also knew that somewhere on the property was the love of my life. I believed he had an accent of some sort, and that’s all I knew. When I awoke, I had that feeling of knowing that the phone is about to ring, and it does. Well, I knew that someday, this dream would come true. Someday I would be married to a man with an accent...and have a goat.
Where in The World
Stay with me now. I believe that each person must make his or her own future, but I just knew deep down inside, that a man with an accent was waiting for me somewhere in the world.
I didn’t date at all in high school. You know that quiet girl that everyone knows; she’s nice, witty, gets perfect grades but doesn’t go to parties or join clubs...sort of anti-social? That was me, I was the vanilla girl. I never even kissed a guy until I was eighteen years old and I really didn’t think any guy even wanted to, low self-esteem I guess. It probably stemmed from not being told I was beautiful often enough or some sort of rubbish. Then again, I never really cared about what other people thought of me either.
After graduation, I took off on the best journey of my young life to backpack through Europe. With just a guidebook, backpack and a limitless Eurail Train Pass, I discovered myself through travel. After three months of seeing nine countries and meeting the most amazing people probably on this planet, I started to come into my own. It’s also where I learned I can be pretty darn attractive…. if ya know what I mean...wink, wink. A trip through Europe is just the thing for my ego.
Italian Wonder Woman
Through a strange turn of events in Florence, Italy, on a laundry day (a backpackers happiest day) alongside a weirdo who wanted to see my feet, I ended up meeting the admissions lady of SACI (Studio Art Centers International), Danielle. She was not only my savior that night, shouting colorful Italian swear words at my assailant, but she was the key to my following year of attending art school in Italy. Italy people! Home of gnocchi, Michelangelo’s David, Pavarotti, gelato, espresso, bomboloni, vino, and what I would soon come to find out, lots of Albanians.
Albanian At The Ready
During the very last month of school, when I had officially sworn off men, (because they were obviously falling at my feet by the hundreds), an event turned my life upside down. The plans for heading back home to Northern California were to join the military so I could finish my education. Since I was one of those poor students, I also had to get a job to pay off my one year of school debt, and the military sounded promising.
One fateful night when I headed to a club in Florence to earn some money (As a club promoter people! Get your mind out of the gutter. I have some morals after all), little did I know what was lurking in the dark, waiting to throw me into another alternative universe, where no one has gone before. A place suspended in time and space, another dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a what I call, Albania. Cue Twilight Zone sound effects, Do do do do, do do do do!
To read more about who was waiting for me in the club, click here!