Postcard from Croatia

By Nika Jelendorf

For the past two weeks I’d sneak ‘I’m back home’ in most conversations I’ve had. Saying ‘home’ feels right, but it doesn’t sound right when I mull it over. I’ve left Croatia 6 years ago and my husband and I are in the process of buying a house in the UK. I’ve never even properly lived in Postira, my family would just visit (this coastal village on the island of Brač) every summer for a month.

Still, it feels like home. My mother and brother are here. The people I knew at 6 are mostly still here. Dišpet is here. I’m not sure how to translate ‘dišpet’ properly. The dictionary says it’s ‘defiance’, but I think in English defiance needs to be a push against something. Dišpet is more of a permanent attitude of ‘Oh, no you don’t.’ If the word ‘spite’ didn’t have a negative connotation, I’d prefer that translation. Some of the dišpet seems to be firmly reserved for the COVID prevention measures. I have been hugged, kissed, pinched and patted by most of the elderly people I know. That also feels like home. I feel the relief of not being treated like a leper shooting all the way through me. At the same time, I’m terrified I’ll infect someone. And more often than not, when people talk to me about it, I get included in the ‘they’, not the ‘us’. ‘You have more deaths than us.’ ‘You people up there allow the government to control you, not like us.’ ‘You have a better vaccination programme.’

So here I am, feeling like I’m back home and knowing I’m not. It’s a like looking at a 3D picture without the 3D glasses – a layer of belonging over a layer of not belonging. I’m packing my suitcase to go back to London. London is more like looking at a zebra, black and white with clear borders. In some places I feel like I belong completely. In others I feel so alien I might as well be from Mars. And yesterday, when someone asked me how long I’m staying, I’ve said ‘I’m going home tomorrow.’

so, here you are
too foreign for home
too foreign for here.
never enough for both

(Diaspora Blues – a poem by Ijeoma Umebinyuo from Questions for Ada, 2015)

Nika Jelendorf is a 3rd year student of the Gestalt psychotherapy programme at Metanoia Institute and the Deputy Conference Officer for UKAGP.

UKAGP Newsletter, Summer 2021
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