I plunge into a new country in a part of the world I’ve never been to. Anticipation fills my body. I’m a child awaiting Christmas, can’t withhold the smile from my lips, the excitement is about to burst my heart. I hadn’t been looking forward to this photo trip, but ever since I’ve decided to do whatever I want instead of trying to do something my teachers would like to see, it has taken a turnaround.
Đorđe, George, 27 and actor, arrives a bit late to our meeting. I’m not surprised, I’ve already expected a different feeling for time here. He’s tall, his smile radiant, his salutary hug warm. I half-expected him not to show up; I’m grateful he agreed to meet up with a random photographer girl who contacted him through Instagram.
We stop by a falafel shop before heading to the location of the play he invited me to watch. It’s an interesting experience, watching a play in a language I don’t understand. Before and afterwards he greets and hugs half the audience and cast. He knows so many people, everyone seems really happy about meeting him and I’m feeling kinda awkward being his appendix. But he introduces me to everyone in his easy-going way and I’m okay.
After the play, the actors and their friends meet up in a tiny room. It’s full of smoke and happy voices. People shout and talk lively and I wonder whether it’s a cultural thing or because they’re actors. Also, they are incredibly touchy with each other. Arms slung around shoulders, long kisses on the cheek, tight hugs that last for ages. It’s lovely to watch them and I get a bit envious. This uninhibited display of affection is beautiful.
The kindness and warmth I encounter is heartwarming. I’m just tagging along, sometimes more observing than participating, but people talk to me, try to integrate me, take care of me. I never feel abandoned or uncomfortable even when I’m just sitting unparticipating for a couple of minutes.
Then Djordje brings me to another bar/theatre where we meet other actor friends of his. I’m surrounded by actors from both film and theatre and wonder how the hell I got here. Some are about to become really well-known in Serbia and I’m just a shy, insecure little girl that likes to meet people and take photos that mean something to her and yet those photos are what brought me here, to them.
What probably makes me happiest– I show them the pictures I’ve been sharing on Instagram, photos that feel like me and that have hurt and moved me, and they react positively to it. This is me. Naked, broken and vulnerable, and they actually connect with it, want to work with me because of what they see. They don’t see a simple beautiful photo and want to have one too. No. This time I know they actually get it. Because I’m finally starting to be able to transmit what I’m feeling.
It’s 2:30 am when I reach the hostel. My introvert heart is overwhelmed but I’m so goddamn happy I’m here in Belgrade. Here and present with body, heart and mind. I wouldn’t wish to be anywhere else.