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Take A Look At the Sun

By Melody Heath

            I decided to hide with my computer in a little café on the right side of the main street coming into Old Town in Croatia.  As embarrassing as it was to waste any time while visiting a country on a computer, I needed to update my software.  My computer had been crashing off and on for weeks and my virus protection had expired. 

            I position myself in front of a window looking over the tables set outside the café, filled with a number of older men conversing and enjoying drinks.  I wonder for a minute why everybody is sitting outside.  Indeed, I am completely alone inside the restaurant itself.  They are all wrapped in scarves, topped with hats, and covered in tweed jackets.  So, why don’t any of them come inside if they’re cold?  I’ve taken my sweater off and my hat rests on the table behind my laptop.  It’s late in the afternoon and the sun is now hiding behind the thick Old Town walls. 

            Then, I remembered something I read in an article by Nives Ritig-Beljak called, “War Lunch.” The article voices problems Croats had during the war with food shortages and though they never completely ran out of food, preparation posed some difficulties.  Often time while cooking a meal outdoors amidst airplanes and bombings, one didn’t know if he would make it to the meal at all.  One woman, explaining how they would cook food, says that if some one wanted to go outside “to see the daylight, he would most often get killed” (175). 

            So maybe this is why all these men chose to sit outside instead of confining themselves inside the café.  They remember a time when it was dangerous to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea while in the daylight.  Perhaps, the feeling of sitting around a table, conversing and relaxing still feels precious and rewarding after being trapped indoors for days at a time during a war that ended over ten years ago. 

            Since I never experienced what they did, I can’t understand how it feels.  I can’t understand that feeling of entrapment or fear.  Can that be why Americans don’t sit around and drink their coffee while chatting with friends?  Why do we rush into Starbucks, grab our caffeine booster and continue about our day?  Maybe, we should learn to relax and take a break during the day.  After all, there may come a day when we wish we could.   

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