I went back to my 2014 post on Joseph as a “Serial Sobber”, and I could not resist tearing it in two and rewriting both parts extensively. You can read the first part here: Mikeitz & Vayiggash: Serial Sobber, Part 1. I’ll post the second part next week, after I finish rewriting it.
Unlike Joseph, I am a person who does not cry easily. I only break into sobs once every five to ten years, when I have been trying and trying to accomplish something, and I finally realize I have to give up.
There are also times when another person touches my heart and I feel moved, like Joseph, but the closest I get to weeping then is a small tightening of my throat.
My throat tightened a bit this week when I was walking around Split, Croatia. Most of the other folks on the streets are Croatians, since this is definitely the off season. It dawned on me that only people under 30 looked happy. The faces of most older Croatians are engraved with lines of grim endurance, broken only when someone says hvala, “thank you”, and flashes a quick smile.
And then I remembered: Croatia used to be part of Yugoslavia under the totalitarian dictatorship of Josip Tito. After his death in 1980 the country deteriorated further, and then war began: first between Croats and Serbs, then between an independent Croatia and the splintering Yugoslavia. Croatia’s secession and independence were finally secured in 1995. The Croatian economy began to recover around 2000, and the country became a member of the EU in 2013.
Now Split has a prosperous tourist industry. Sunshine and a warm seashore help, but so do all the ancient stone buildings that nobody could afford to raze and replace during the second half of the 20th century, when so many other cities lost their architectural treasures to the brutal aesthetic of the time. Now, thanks to the segments of “Game of Thrones” filmed in Split, the old city is more attractive to tourists than ever.
The young adults look relaxed and happy here. But when I consider the older adults who lived through the war in the 1990’s, and some even through the Tito years, my throat tightens. I respect them just for carrying on.