Travels in Tuscany: Time as the greatest distance

Time is a thief. It robs us clarity and the perspectives of history It lulls us to complacency with mundane assertions, then rushes away towards the end of the day, and of our lives. Time steals from us, and we are its very willing accomplices.

That was all too apparent as Shevko stepped from his  little black sedan across from the hotel. We had both changed since the war, our lives carried upon their separate courses, but always bending back to this moment. I couldn’t contain a smile. A part of me felt like coming home. A part of me, the part always lost in the war, at last believed that something good had come from all that, besides Ana and I of course. Friendship, real honest friendship had outlasted and prevailed against 20 years of tumultuous history. Perhaps most of all, we had transcended a decade of animosities between religions, both of us wise and strong enough to parcel the foolishness and ignorance of the world to a proper place.

UNPROFOR Peacekeepers on patrol in Mostar, October 1994

Shev had grown a thick but well-trimmed beard, obscuring that boyish grin I’d recalled from our first meeting. Despite a recent divorce, he seemed happy and settled, no doubt the consequence of two young sons that he loved deeply. The last I’d  seen Shev was shortly after the war. He was still in Mostar, Bosnia. He seemed deeply hurt and unsettled then, which was absolutely a consequence of all he, his family and community had survived. Crossing Via Salvador Allende that evening in Montelupo I wasn’t embracing a long-lost acquaintance, but a brother.

He was a bit heavier now. Tuscan food and wine…and girls…had been generous to him. There were hints of gray at his temples. But for that he was the same. He held the same smirk, the same whimsy and devil-may-care attitude, the same swagger, and the same inability to keep from falling instantly in love with every beautiful woman who passed. It wasn’t as potent as when we were both younger, but the spirit was just as I recalled.

Ana joined us a moment later. She’d not seen him since the war when she arrived in the dead of night with her mother and baby brother, having escaped Sarajevo during a brief ceasefire in the summer of 1995. Detained at a Bosnian Army checkpoint on  a desolate stretch of road skirting the frontline. With a Serbian last name (she was from a mixed marriage) things might have turned out tragically if not for Shevko. His name was enough for her to pass through the checkpoint.

Ana, Shevko and his son, Leonardo in Florence

They hugged warmly. The quality of a life is in the moments that come as rare and valuable as a jewel. This was certainly a  moment I would put away and keep in a safe place, saving it for darker days for perspective. I was savoring the moment, holding fully to it, and cataloguing every detail. Time would not steal this moment from me this time. And though the moment past, swept among the torrents of time, this one I would never relinquish, now nor forever.

About 900poundgorilla

W.C. Turck is a Chicago playwright and the author of four widely acclaimed books.His latest is "The Last Man," a prophetic novel of a world ruled by a single corporation. His first novel, "Broken: One Soldier's Unexpected Journey Home," was reccommended by the National Association of Mental Health Institutes. His 2009 Memoir, "Everything for Love" chronicled the genocide in Bosnia and the siege of Sarajevo. His third book "Burn Down the Sky" is published exclusively on Amazon Kindle. It was in Sarajevo at the height of the siege where he met and married his wife, writer and Artist Ana Turck. FOX NEWS, ABC, CBS News, the Chicago Tribune and The Joliet Herald covered their reunion after the war. He helped organized relief into Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. Turck has been a guest on WMAQ-TV, WLS in Chicago, WCPT, WBBM radio, National Public Radio, Best Of the Left and the Thom Hartmann show. He has spoken frequently on Human Rights, Genocide and Nationalism. In 2011, his play in support of the Occupy Movement, "Occupy My Heart-a revolutionary Christmas Carol" recieved national media attention and filled theaters to capacity across Chicago. He remains an activist to the cause of human rights and international peace. View all posts by 900poundgorilla

One response to “Travels in Tuscany: Time as the greatest distance

  • julia sullivan

    It is interesting the way the story changing from a very insightful and humorous travel experience to a personal memoir. Serious, but heartfelt. It certainly is a wonder, you found the man, who without, your lives would have been very different. It is a wonder after 20 years. Fate!!!

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