In lieu of writing, I have been traveling. I haven’t felt at peace, and the only thing that could keep me from fading away at the edges was to keep moving. I spent an afternoon in Poland, in Slovakia, a weekend in Germany, and a weekend in Austria. European cities collect in my memories and notes with comfort as a side effect. There’s more to come and it’s one of the things that keep me afloat.
Words, more oft than sentences, penned absentmindedly in a café with a warm cup of melange or a flat white. People-watching, picking up conversations with random strangers, having apfelstrudels with vanilla sauce as a balanced lunch, feeling the structure of cobblestones beneath my feet, trying to keep my mind at bay. Mostly that. Trying to keep my mind from wondering and wandering and getting lost in the tangle of thoughts and memories, which can only hurt me.
I would hate to think that I enjoy descending into miserable states of mind, but seeing how often it actually happens, I cannot help but think that it’s what I am inclined to do. Being and staying present has been strenuous, and sometimes I worry that the only thing I have accomplished is to create more distance between the person I want to be and the person that I am.
I moved back to Prague four months ago, into a glorious one-bedroom apartment at the heart of Žižkov neighborhood. And still, in all that time I have only acquired a handsome double-bed, a couple of chairs and a table to keep in the dining area. A typewriter, I’ve barely had the chance to use, sits atop my kitchen table where I never dine. Or spend any time whatsoever.
Keeping the apartment empty, airy, and free of possessions makes it easy for me to disappear on the weekends with nothing or no one to tend to. I slip out at a moment’s notice. I prefer the minimalistic lifestyle. Simple colors. Hard floors, wooden details, and an abundance of white.
Instead of possessions, I collect memories, books, handwritten journals, albums upon albums of images, late night conversations over delicious bottles of wine, scrumptious breakfasts, dinner, and lunches, walks in nature in southern Bohemia, flight ticket stubs, ticket stubs in general, coins and notes of different currencies, and most importantly friendships.
Of all the revelations, I’ve had this year this one has made the most profound impact on the quality of my life: people are the most important aspect of my life, more than any things will ever be.
At the start of the year, I chose the word focus for twenty-fifteen, not knowing it would lead me to simplicity for twenty-sixteen. It turns out I might have been right after all.
No one forgets what happens. The secret is to learn to live with it.
I have felt no need to write. Not recently and not for a while. And as for why?, there’s no definite answer, either. I am afraid of revealing too much. Of saying the wrong thing. Of saying the right thing. I am afraid that you will see that I am still hurting. That I still fall apart every once in a while. It hasn’t gotten any easier. Expecting something to happen does not guarantee it. In fact, quite the opposite.
I am struggling and I have been struggling. Recently and for a while.
There. There it is. Inhale; exhale.
I was going to write letters during the festive season but managed none of them. The typewriter I brought home a month ago sits on my kitchen table, collecting dust. I stored it away in a suitcase that it came in. It’s huge and heavy, and moving it around isn’t an option. The same way I am unable to move the heavy feeling that has settled into my chest three years ago. It has not dissolved since then and it isn’t any closer to dissolving. The sadness, mostly the grief and guilt, accumulated with time. It hardened into a block of concrete that I carry around with me.
I wish they’d told me this would happen. I wish I knew then what I know now.