Growing Up (Feat. Audra Mansager)

Crushing longing
Aching for forever
As you lose a comfort that had subtly,
delicately encased you
Without you even knowing
You don’t understand
How can you fix this?
What could you have been
What should you have done?

What happens when your first heartbreak isn’t with a person?
When the first thing that rips at your soul and leaves you raw to the world isn’t a trauma?
What happens when the reason you cry yourself to sleep every night isn’t because of a death?
How do you justify it?
How do you explain it
To people who didn’t grow up like you?
To people who don’t understand
will never understand
what its like to leave a Home that wasn’t your own in the first place?

My first love wasn’t a boy
or a girl
but a place
The first place I felt Home


Such a small word for such a big thing
And they don’t get it
And no one gets it
But you’ve done this before
You’ll be fine
Just move on


But slowly “home” becomes less of a
“home” becomes
inexplicably linked to
Hidden places
Secret spaces
New experiences
Things we don’t have language for yet

And you learn that “home”
Is no longer
One Place
Will never be One Place
But a collection of Places

The World

And there still may be people
in One Place
That make you feel like you are less than
for it
That you lack Roots
That you are an Alien
You don’t belong here
This isn’t your Home
You are alone

Your Roots may not run deep
But they run far and wide
They touch people around the world
who touch More people
And they survive
As you survived
From being transplanted so often
And they are better for it
Stronger for it
YOU are stronger for it

Berlin, Germany -- Audra Mansager

Berlin, Germany -- Audra Mansager

By Audra Mansager
Grew up in: USA, Italy, Poland, Russia, and Belgium

Svetog Save 12 (Feat. Roy Miller)

Dear Readers, 

My 83 year old Grandpa is in Belgrade with us for the month of May. He has agreed to be a guest writer for Finding Serenity. Please enjoy a whimsical piece he wrote about the day he arrived at his Serbian apartment.

When God gave me the go-ahead to spend the month of May in Belgrade, Serbia, I looked at a website of several studio-apartments, finally eliminating them down to two.  And then I asked God to give me good wisdom and direction for my final choice.  And He did.  I was certain that He did.  So I looked again at the internet photos of “Svetog Save 12,” full of Eastern European culture and Old World charm. And I smiled as I said, “Thank You, Lord.” And I reserved “Svetog Save 12,” pre-paying for the month of May.

On April 30, Alexa and Lazar met the landlord at “Svetog Save 12,” got the keys, looked over the apartment, stocked the fridge and put up (per Miller tradition) a homemade “Welcome to Serbia” sign, with pieces of bite-sized candy attached.  The next day, they met me at the airport, but instead of saying, “Welcome, Papa,” Alexa moaned, “You don’t have to take it Papa,” and Lazar said, “I’m sure we can get your money back.  Don’t worry,”

         “What are you talking about.”

         “The apartment.  We saw it.  You’ll hate it.”

         “Why?  The photos were great.”

         “You’ll see.  Photos don’t show everything. You’ll hate it.”

And off we went to “Svetog Save 12.”

I think one might describe “Svetog Save 12”  as "quaint"  (attractively unusual; old-fashioned).   The 3 1/2' x 6' bathroom is "compact," ie: the toilet, shower, and sink are compacted together, so I can take a shower while sitting on the pot and brushing my teeth at the sink all at the same time.  It’s cleverly convenient for the multi-tasking generation.  And the shower curtain, which is on the doorway separating the bath room from the 4' x 8' adjoining kitchen, keeps the water from flooding the kitchen, so that is a big plus. Especially since the bathroom sits 3’ above the kitchen, and the highly-varnished wooden storage box that acts as the step from the kitchen to the bathroom is a bit slippery when it gets wet. 

In the 11’ x 13’ bed-living-dining room, the double bed with the one-inch foam mattress only takes up 1/2 of the floor space, so there is still room for a 2’ x 3’  dining-computer-writing table which folds out from the wall underneath the double windows that open inward across the table and look out the onto the courtyard three floors below.  Two of the three “dining” chairs are folded against the wall at the end of the table, which is a good idea, because with a floor lamp at one end of the table and heating unit at the other end, three opened-up chairs around the table might be bit cramped.  Besides, there is no closet nor armoire, so what clothes I can't hang on the rack attached to the inside of the door, I drape over the back of the two folded-up chairs that I don't need; there's only one of me, so why would I need three chairs?  When Alexa and Lazar come to visit, they sit on the edge of the bed.  Voila! one chair is a-plenty for sitting, and the other chairs work well as a pants-hangers.

I grew up without a microwave, so why should I need one now? And if you have a TV, the next thing you’ll want is AC.  Those definitely are not “quaint.”

And with the apartment being so compact, the whisk broom works fine for sweeping the floor.  Besides, where would I store a full-sized broom?  Maybe on the landing 16 steps below, where the mop and mop bucket are tucked away.

When I first entered the apartment, I spied a traditional gallon-sized straw-covered bottle of Chianti.  I wondered why it was there.  Now I know.

After pondering why Alexa and Lazar wanted me to exchange this apartment for another, I’ve concluded that it was because they didn’t want to carry my luggage up 60 stairs on a circular staircase.  But it has a handrail.  Except for the last 10 steps around a semi-curve.

Conclusion:  God knew what He was doing when He directed me to “Svetog Save 12.”  When you put the tongue-in-cheek aside, there really is a lot of Eastern European culture and Old World charm about this apartment, and I love it.  (But only for 30 days.  Please, Lord).

-Roy G. Miller

Belgrade, Serbia - May 2018

Belgrade, Serbia - May 2018