Teen finds bliss in simplicity

The+view+from+Salims+Grandmothers+balcony+overlooks+the+gorgeous+Bosnian+countryside%2C+overgrown+with+lucious+greenery+and+scattered+with+small+farmhouses.+Photo+by+Manal+Salim

The view from Salim’s Grandmother’s balcony overlooks the gorgeous Bosnian countryside, overgrown with lucious greenery and scattered with small farmhouses. Photo by Manal Salim

Manal Salim

The view from Salim’s Grandmother’s balcony overlooks the gorgeous Bosnian countryside, overgrown with luscious greenery and scattered with small farmhouses. Photo by Manal Salim
Bosnia, a small country nestled within the heart of Europe, is filled with bustling cities and sights galore. Tourists and citizens alike visit the diverse markets, where the smells of spices engage with the musk of cultural cloths for sale. Bright scarves seem to wave a lingering gesture in the wind at the shoppers as they stroll past, as if luring the customers to buy them. All that can be heard is the usual bickering as customers bargain for an item of interest.
This can all be a fascinating experience in another country beyond what many have ever been exposed to. However, when I visited Bosnia with my family, the urban life didn’t snag my interest and attention. I longed to visit the simplicity of the lush countryside, where the air was fresh, crisp and soothing to the soul. For this was where my beloved grandmother lived, and where ironically, everlasting and adventurous memories were made.
I happened to find that on my visit to Bosnia, the tourism and crowded cities were not what I seem to remember most. Although cliché, I realized that good things come in small and simple packages. I would tag along with my grandmother whenever she would head outside to do some gardening. Following in her every step, I trailed behind my grandmother like a loyal puppy, my heart skipping like the manner in which I was walking and my eyes yearning for the experience I was about to endure.
She would lead me into the orderly and organized little garden where she had put forth excessive amounts of effort. Her chest swelled with pride as she presented to me where her afternoons of toil where spent. Together we would lean over plant after plant as the midday sun scorched our necks and aching pain would jolt the muscles in our back from being bent over for so long. Despite the diligence we were exerting, we would harvest each and every vegetable, and as each reward was plucked, we would bond with one another all the more. Sharing stories, jokes, and feelings with each other was simply our way of passing the time. My grandmother thought that she was merely providing me with an interesting experience when she was actually enriching the lovely memories I have of her and my trip to Bosnia in the simplest of manners.
Behind my grandmother’s coral pink villa, there lay rolling hills that seemed to extend forever off into the distance. These alluring hills and the mystery that lay within them caught the curiosity of my brother and I, and we soon found ourselves venturing off into the quiet hills in search of a serene area to call our very own. Nestled between the flourishing trees lay a vast field where we were free to do as we pleased. Wildflowers of every variety and color imaginable dotted the meadow like a vibrant canvas and were at my fingertips to craft into an exquisite bouquet.
Being eight years old, I was thrilled at having a place like this, where I could imagine being anything I could possibly dream of. I was a princess who called the field her kingdom. I was a fairy who hid within the floral grassland. I was Little Red Riding Hood lost in the forest scavenging the way to my grandmother’s home while avoiding the wolf. Far from the distractions of daily life, I made memories of my own. Although they were the simplest of activities that took place, letting my imagination run wild is a memory that will never perish from my heart.
I didn’t regret excusing myself from partaking in city shopping, visiting the historical ruins alongside a droning tour guide, or throwing myself onto stomach-wrenching amusement park rides. I found my ultimate contentment spending time with the ones I love. Many people believe everything must be extravagant in order for it to be enjoyable, but this is most certainly not true. Making memories of your own and taking the time to notice the little things are what truly matters.

I will never forget that once a long day of gardening and exploring eventually came to an end, never was my evening complete without relaxing on my grandmother’s second-story white-washed balcony decorated with engraved columns and intricate designs of curves and arches. Off into the distance lay a bountiful cherry tree, plump with ripe cherries upon it just yearning to be picked. Beyond the tree was the boasting city of Sarajevo, where the aged, stone buildings sat as they had for countless years, withstanding the pounding storms and baking in the inconsiderate heat.

Finally, there were the snow-capped mountains, tinted with an orange hue from the golden glow of the setting sun. As I sat there watching the evening unfold, my mind was whipping with all the things I could do before my glorious trip was to come to an end. I promised myself that once I returned to the states, I wouldn’t beg to be entertained in an extravagant manner for I was aware that the events that would take place wouldn’t mean all that much to me. Rather, I learned to be appreciative and enjoy what I have and what I should value most. Now I know, the next time I am presented two packages, one enormous and great and the other small and unassuming, I will be picking the latter, aware of all the cherished memories and experiences I will endure.

By Manal Salim

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