Earlier this week I went through my school supplies, organizing them into piles: stuff for my host family, stuff for my school, stuff I can conceivably use while I’m living in Albania. After putting aside books I need to return to school and some activities I made in past years and need to give to my co-workers, and a few things for Albania (see: one pack markers, I like color-coding my calendar) I was left with a huge stack of notebooks, markers, balloons, stickers and temporary tattoos for my family. My sisters A. and F. handled distribution, but I kind of wanted to cry watching them do it. A. was psyched to have so many new school supplies, but F. is old enough to know what it means I’m giving grocery bags of my things to them all, and said, “You’re leaving soon, aren’t you?”
Sometimes when A. and I are fighting she’ll yell at me that she won’t come on my walks to the bank/grocery store/post office anymore. But since our last bank/grocery run took 70 minutes (30 more than it should have) because A. was so busy throwing ripped-up leaves at me, buying ice cream, telling stories she’d picked up from recent visitors to the house, and pulling her Bajramski pari (money she got on Bajram) out of her pocket to count it, I’m not sure that’s all bad. She sometimes gives good advice at the grocery store (as when she instructed me re: the best snacks to buy for my flight home in July), but that’s often followed by her goading me into buying ingredients for cookies.
Yesterday was Macedonia’s Independence Day, meaning no school, meaning A. and I made a dessert for her family. We walked to the closest prodav (store) to get all the necessary ingredients, A. kept laughing to hear me speak Albanian (they keep most things behind the counter, so you have to ask the storekeeper to get everything for you; and the owners know Macedonian, of course, but they’re Albanian and my Albanian is better than my Macedonian, which means when I go in with A. I am always, weirdly, speaking Albanian to the owners and Macedonian to A., and they are switching back and forth too), and the owners asked if A. and me are friends. Then we came home and did our baking, and who is going to help me make a mess of my kitchen when I’m living in Tirana?