This summer is once again a chaotic one in the Thomas house. I already wrote that we don't need an entrance door at our house, but a revolving one like at a department store. Sometimes when I see the flow through the house, I think "do we even need a door?" Let them in!
This summer, my mother and niece and, as usual, my wife's sister came to visit me. With so many women in the house, it goes without saying that Toto (our dog) and I are an endangered species. Along with the other dogs and cats, and with the temporarily housed puppies (we adopted three little ones), the flow was the same as it used to be in Neum.
The rhythms of life are different, so while some are sleeping, others are swimming, while others are washing, others are working, while others are working, some others are cooking, but despite everything, life runs smoothly. The only ones that are constantly moaning are the household appliances, the fridge that is bursting at the seams. Someone is always buying something, and the fridge suffers from it, when I open it, I'm afraid that it will throw up all that huge food on me.
"Has anyone seen my white trousers?" was the question of a family member. "I'm looking for my black ones too," replied the other. The search for clothes is constant and somewhat utopian. Clothes have been swapped around, my mother in my T-shirt and my wife wearing what I think was my niece's shirt, sunglasses rotating from face to face, "are those my...?" has been a theme this sunny season.
The amount of towels drying on the line gives you the impression that we are indeed a hotel complex.
In order to spend as much time as possible with my English family, we spent a lot of time outside. We went swimming, to the pool, to coffee shops, to restaurants and, of course, to the City. But with a boat. I don't need to explain to you that those 8 kilometres from the Župa to the City are pure horror. I don't know if it's worse to sit in a car at a standstill or to die of winter in a bus-refrigerator for which you waited 40 minutes in the middle of nowhere.
"Oh, your mother is here, how are you"? I'm used to people shouting after me, I’m used to be asked about my columns, so it was a refreshing change to see my mother the centre of attention.
And the places and faces that she remembers is just as impressive. And as she recounts stories of restaurants where we've eaten in the past, or souvenir shops that had smiling faces, it is always a reminder of what we do and say, and how we behave, really matters. Tourists remember you. Yes, they now have the ability to instantaneously judge you by using social media, but much more importantly is that years and years later I found myself avoiding restaurants with my mother as she “had terrible service” there 20 years ago.
Yes, it has been the usual chaotic summer in our household. But just as the swallows fly south so September will come and the sound of silence will reign. So I’m going with the flow. Enjoying the social madness. Embracing the chaos.
For by the time you read this I will in fact be home alone again. My mother will have flown home and my wife will be accompanying her. The Croatian side of the family will largely be back in the metropole. The friends back home.
It will be like going from the crescendo of an AC/DC concert to a pianissimo recital.
But I will miss the madness. “Who’s this now?” said my mother as yet another car pulled up. “I think we’ll need more chairs,” I joked. My dog has basically given up barking at new arrivals, clearly deciding that “I can’t keep up with this, I’m going to lose my voice.” At one point I had over a dozen people connected to my WI-FI. I half expected a message from T-Com telling me to update my service to a commercial one.
However, the winter is long and dark so why not have some light and sunshine in the summer. And especially after the last two years. We’ve been encouraged not to mingle, not to gather, so now we are just compensating for the lost time. Although this summer we may have just over compensated a touch.
But that’s why we love summer in Dubrovnik, at least why I love it. The al fresco lifestyle combined with social interaction. Who needs social media when you have summer in Dubrovnik?
Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to