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  • James

Alive

Updated: Mar 11, 2022


In July of 2021 I found myself running through the pouring rain along the darkened streets of Beograd with my wife after ignoring the steep barometric pressure drop and the inevitable torrential downpour. It had been stifling hot for weeks, the break in temperature was so welcome that we hadn’t paid attention to the obvious signs.

We spent the initial deluge under an archway off of Knez Mihalova street surrounded by several equally unprepared souls. Mothers herding children that stomped and played in the newly formed puddles, careless of anything beyond the moment. Old men with stern faces cracked almost - smiles at the sight when they thought no one was looking.

After what seemed an eternity, but was likely less than 15 minutes, the maelstrom abated. We chanced to venture out again, yet were almost immediately met with a cold and mighty downpour, to which we took shelter under the small awning of a storefront. We ducked inside the nearest cafe we could find, because “inat”, because Beograd, because we could at least have drinks while waiting to head home. It certainly seemed the better option to slowly getting soaked under that awning. I ordered the biggest beer they had and Sam had some sort of massive fruity cocktail we spoke and laughed and drank for hours while glancing out the window for signs the maelstrom might abate as the light slowly disappeared from already grey skies. Finally, it seemed at least, that we might make it home without a twenty minute walk in the cold, pouring rain. We managed a few blocks before the skies opened up yet again, this time, there was nowhere left open to take shelter as we took flight, her hand in mine, running from meager cover to cover over cracked cement pavers and cobblestone streets. Sidewalks too small for two people. Cars and busses that can’t see too well driving too fast causing wakes of water flying in the air taller than a man. Vagabonds on the run, ducking occasionally under an overhang or closed shopfront. The red brake lights of cars mixed with the Yugoslav era tungsten of the streetlights and the occasional random hues of a neon sign reflecting off the soaked surfaces everywhere as though a sleek Jackson Pollack of light were splattered in the street. Somehow, through the noise and madness and cold and rain, somehow, we finally arrived home, cold, unharmed, shaking, and wholly alive.












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