This story features our matchmakers from Jelena & Ante‘s loveprélude. After this, I think it’s only fair that someone name a kid after one of them.
Posušje, Hercegovina – 16 August. It’s 1 am and Ivana is sitting at a cafe with her cousin Nina and husband Mate, sister Jelena and husband Ante, and Ante’s brother and wife. Plus her dad. They’ve been out all day, drinking and eating and fešta-ing for Velika Gospa, a holiday in Hercegovina and the unofficial end of summer. Ivana is the single girl in the group and no one lets her forget it. After some gentle ribbing from Ante that she should’ve married his brother, Ivana quickly retorts that he was too short. She needs someone who is basketball player tall. Basketball player? Hmmm.
Mate calls a friend and tells him to tell his brother that he’s needed immediately at Caffe Lira. In no time, a tall man arrives, very disheveled and missing a flip-flop. Stanko sits down and asks, “Why am I here?” Mate doesn’t really answer. They exchange friendly small talk when Ivana’s dad stands up and says it’s time for him to get home. Everyone wishes him a good night. The moment he leaves, Mate points to Ivana and tells him, “Listen, this girl has been eyeing you all night”. Absolutely mortified by Mate’s blatant lie, Ivana can only sit with a blush on her face, refusing to make eye contact with Stanko.
The group decides to move on to the next cafe. As they begin to make their way, Stanko appears at Ivana’s side and silently offers his arm. Bemused, Ivana accepts and they begin to walk. Despite his appearance and missing footwear, Ivana couldn’t help but notice how stoic and collected this man was. They talk a bit. She learns that he’s a former basketball player currently working in Germany. She shares that tonight is her last night in Hercegovina before making her way to Zagreb and then home to Toronto. It starts to rain and they find shelter in a nearby stairwell. As they wait for the rain to stop, their conversation becomes more and more flirtatious until finally Stanko leans in for a kiss. They talk all night and Stanko promises to keep in touch. Jaded from previous experiences, Ivana doesn’t hold her breath. But one text leads to another. And another.
One year later, Stanko will propose to Ivana in the same stairwell where they hid from the rain.
Ivana and Stanko’s summer rendezvous makes me think of the warm nights and colourful days of India.