“I choose to go to Christian churches. I tried to get involved. It just didn’t fit for me though. I never stayed…jumped around from different churches or whatnot.”
Fiction. Based on a True Observation of Tourism.
By Mingjie Zhai
This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.
Trigger Warning: our program often motivates people to discuss their trauma. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, please, take a step back to address emotional flashbacks and trauma before continuing to push yourself. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or the National Suicide Hotline at (1-800) 273-8255.
You missed the Heztergovnia classics tour. The night before they said they had space but you heard that it would rain so you passed.
Today, you took your sweet time walking through Mostar with Roxy. It is sunny, with light sprinkles. You order the same chicken boneless plate for 5 marks. What a deal plus their black currant juice for 2.5 marks which equals to about $4 total.
You arrive at Mother Mary cathedral exactly at 2:22. You’ve been seeing that number now. You looked it up the night before. It says: Master Builder.
You pass by two women sitting on the street in full display with their child and begging for change. You observe the slew of tourists, one holding an expensive camera and few others just passing her by. She was looking left when from her right side you gave her the ten marks.
You begin walking away. She says behind you, “Hallo,” and you ignore her because you know exactly what she wants from you…more.
You keep walking and see a younger woman with her baby. You skip her. But watch a big group of European tourists pass her by just as they were leaving the church…but church as a scenic tour destination and not a pilgrimage. You keep walking for another 20 minutes until you come upon Mother Mary’s cathedral which is the place you wanted to pay the tour guide to show you anyway, but you thought your tour guide money could be better spent giving marks away to hungry single mothers to take care of their children than to act like these tourists who would rather stay with the herd and pretend the ones who are really in need don’t exist.
You see this play out in your home in LA. The apathy hurts you. You approach Mother Mary and on her lap is a son with his arms wide open with a white rose on his left and your right. A water foundation streams on your right and you are in squat position, head up and then head down.
I don’t know what to say other than I’m a terrible mother, you say to Mother Mary. I push away the men because they aren’t the one. And the ones I want to have babies with all run away terrified or block me like I’m some disease. I’m also terrified of being a single mother raising kids on my own like the two women I passed by today.
They looked quite pathetic and made everybody around them uncomfortable. They were the pariahs and I’m angry at the apathy and I’m also angry at how pathetic they look. I’m just angry at the state of this fallen world.
You cry and again it’s your left eye that streams water down, the same way you cried inside Mother Mary’s divinity cathedral in Krakow, Poland, the day after you visited Auschwitz.
Roxy heads to the edge of where the statue is, where the muddy waters are and just plants her entire body there as if to cool down from 30 minutes of walking. You hear a girls voice and look to your left to see a couple who sits together amused at Roxy. They are a young couple and again you are reminded of the kind of love you last shared with Rylie. Budding.
Then you leave, feeling this sense of aloneness with Roxy, yet so much beauty, as the both of you are surrounded by forestry.
You stop by a playground with children, families, and middle school tweens hanging out. You park yourself there to read a scripture from Paul. Galatians 3:27-4:4. About having no distinctions under Greek or Jew, we are all one body under Christ.
First a Catholic Serbian family approaches you to pet the dog with their 2 year old daughter. They ask you where you are from and you say California. Sure enough the next question is what are you doing here? In disbelief. You tell them you are writing about the post war and she tells you that there is still a lot of complex issues. She tells you that things here are still complicated. She says the people smile in front of tourists like yourself but beneath the surface, they still fight among each other like cats and dogs. She tells you that the Muslims hate the Serbs for happened, the Croatians hate the Muslims, and the so on. She says that before the war, people were living peacefully together but after the the war there is so much buried anger, resentment, and unforgiveness. She continues to tell you that it is complicated. She says she tries to forget about it but she has at one point become very depressed from this situation that overwhelms her and is beyond her to control. She says she just wants to focus on being good herself and to focus on her family.
She tells you that most people in this world are good. She says out of 300 people there may be five hooligans making chaos and creating evil. She tells you that evil is loud. Perhaps a bit of shame stirs your heart. All those journal entries you’ve written about Aaron…highlighting the bad when there is so much good.
Aaron choosing you.
Aaron wanting you to come home.
Aaron wanting you to start a business with him.
Aaron wanting to grow your retirement in good faith.
You realize that this is all she can do. Had you done that 9 years ago…focused on building family rather than this one up payback of who is going to be on top between you and your husband, then your daughter would have been 9 about now.
Probably the same age as this girl Leïna who you just met, who hangs around you in hopes that Roxy would cozy up to her, and let her pet her. Tough. Roxy, like you, doesn’t trust people. She’s also experienced deep wounding at an early age and was bitten 3 times. Another couple is to your left and this time it’s two teens on a honeymoon. A girl grinding on the guy’s lap on a bench somewhere…young lust.
You are surrounded by children and family. Mother Mary blesses you.
Visualize Christine Caine.
That is your destiny…master builder and master teacher.