I make grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch today.
I think the hardest part of making grilled cheese is buttering the bread. For Americans, buttering bread is made simple by the fact that we usually toast in first. This cannot be done when making grilled cheese.
On my last morning in Europe, in his apartment just outside of Belgrade, my host taught me how to butter un-toasted bread properly. The trick is to slice the butter so thinly that it's practically the thinness you'll want already. When you have a thicker slab and try to spread it, the bread tears.
A simple lesson.
I met Nikola at church the week before. He is a branch president, which means he was in charge of caring for the members of the small group in Belgrade. He's young for the calling, just 24 years old. When I showed up at church, a foreigner and stranger, he asked whether I had a place to stay and offered a bed at his place. I was staying with friends, so I didn't need it then, but the morning before I had to go to the airport, realizing I would have to wake up at 3 am the next day to catch the bus to ride the two hours to the capitol if I stayed in Zrenjanin for the night, I called him and asked whether I could still take him up on the offer. He said yes, and told me he could even give me a ride to the airport in the morning.
So my friends put me on a bus at 5pm that night and I met Nikola in Pancevo.
He was making pasta for dinner (His Italian aunt taught him the recipe) and he let me use the computer to call my family on skype. Then we talked for a while-- he's travelled in Africa and the US, and wanted to hear about my trip.
We got up at 6:30 to go to the airport. Nikola had no car, but one of his friends drives a taxi and was willing to do a stranger a favor.
They dropped me off, wished me luck, and I spent the next two hours in the airport waiting for my flight to America and writing down everything I could remember from the past two days.
I left my e-mail address, but forgot to pick up his, and we haven't been in contact since I got home. Occasionally I think of ways I could try and reach him. I'd like to thank him again.