We lived in Capodistria. In one of the two towers above the harbor. They colored the taller one pink; it was called the Tomos Tower. Probably because in most of the apartments lived motorbikes factory workers. And the most important thing for me was that my classmate from the first grade lived in it, and her father was in prison. At least, that was what my mother used to say. We lived in the purple tower. Since it was much lower, we called it a building. I still remember the address to this day. Museum Square 4. Next to the building was the post office, and across the street was my elementary school. As far as I know, they have demolished it recently. They built a multilevel garage in its place. Now I don’t know where the elementary school is, if it’s still there, if it’s still called “Janko Premrl Vojko” and if his bust still stands in front of it. Back then, when we were still children and were playing in front of a building and as six years olds we walked alone to the city without our parents knowing where we were, but we didn’t care; then we were the bosses. We were returning home when it was getting dark. That was the only rule we had to abide by. The parents always stood at most two hundred meters from us. They were not constantly nervous and did not hold our hands all the time, and we had to take care of cars by ourselves because they could run over us in a second. We were free. With my sister, who was almost four years old, we used to go to the city beach; we played in the sea there, throwing shells to the bottom and snorkeling. When my mother would cook lunch, she would hang a red cloth with blue fish on the balcony of our apartment on the eighth floor, and when we saw it, we knew we had to leave.
I was five or six years old at the time and had three friends. They were Marko, Gorazd and David. They all lived in Capodistria, and we were together since kindergarten. I remember that David had long hair, which was unimaginable at the time. One day I saw his mother crying. She stood in front of the small school, holding David’s hand and crying. The next day, David came to school with his hair cut. He wasn’t in a bad mood and never once mentioned the haircut. When his mother came to look for him in the afternoon, I noticed that she is crying again. She was stroking his close-cropped hair and her jaw was shaking. Many years later I found out that she wanted to have a daughter. Of course, as a child, it never seemed strange to me that David always wears clothes in soft pastel colors. To this day, I remember very well his pink T-shirt with a little girl sitting on the potty, holding a bouquet in her hand. I remember it so well only because I was madly wishing I had the same T-shirt, and he wouldn’t trade it for my navy T-shirt and, on top of that, five more large marbles that I offered him. Now I know why he was always so well dressed. Compared to him, Marko, Gorazd, and I were ordinary rascals. On the other hand, Marco had something that we all wanted to have. Most, most of all. He had the biggest, but indeed the biggest dog and absolutely the best dog in town. His name was Jackie, and he was of the St. Bernard breed. Marco lived with his grandmother, who had a restaurant across the street from our building, and Jackie always came to the fence in the backyard so we could pet his shaggy fur. When I would walk by the fence with my parents, I would call him and when he would come up to the fence and let me pet him, I would proudly look at my parents to see how “cool” I was to pet the biggest dog in town.
“Jackie, Jackie, stay calm Jackie!”
Then I walked in front of them along Shoemakers Street looking like some kind of little peacock. Gorazd lived in one of the old houses near the sea. In the small garden in front of the front door were two bicycles without auxiliary wheels. And when we went for a walk by sea, we passed by his house, my parents always stopped and talked to his mother, and I stared at those bicycles as if they were made of gold. I always had the feeling that my parents loved Gorazd’s mother very much. By the way, she never came with us for a walk, yet they talked with her for hours. And they laughed for a long time with her, but they never talked to Marko’s grandmother or David’s mother. Then the word education meant nothing to me. As far as I know, it was important to the adults that Gorazd’s mother worked as a judge in Piran, but it wasn’t that David’s mother was selling shoes in the “Borovo” store on Kidrich Street or that Marko’s grandmother served stuffed peppers every Wednesday and fried sardines every Friday at Trattoria. Besides, what could be more important compared to all this, when I got a new bike one day? Red with white dots and stripes on the handlebars, which waved as I drove it. By the way, it also had auxiliary wheels, but my father soon took them off, so after that, I rode like an adult. But with his help, even though it didn’t matter to me. We practiced on the street between the Taverna, which was still a restaurant at the time, and the police station. My mother was drinking coffee in “Kompas” and watched us. Every time I fell, she quickly got up, but my father was already showing her with his hand to sit down and that everything was fine with me. My knees were like one big wound anyway. I also had sores on my elbows almost until sixth grade. That never bothered me. Basically, it didn’t bother anyone, except my grandmother Pavla, who lived in Ljubljana and used to say that girls should not have sores like boys have. Girls should be playing girly games like cooking and the like, not climbing trees and getting all dirty. And indeed, at school, we had a kind of cooking corner, where my classmates pretended to be some kind ladies, who prepared teas for their friends and brewed coffee and baked cookies. I never came to them, nor did they invite me to play with them. Gorazd and David and I were playing on the swings, and I didn’t care at all about the time spent with tea and similar things which should interest little girls. And when I learned to ride without auxiliary wheels with the new bike, then I was the happiest child under the sky. When someone older would see me and praise me, such as policeman Zvezdan, whom my mother knew, then I would start driving faster and race, race, and then I was completely out of breath and all red in the face.