prague | one month

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Prague is love. Prague is everything you want it to be. Everything that you remembered it to be.

There have been welcome changes in the past decade, but it’s the familiar things that you find comfort in. The sound of the old trams. The little grocery shops owned by Vietnamese immigrants called Večerka. The red street signs. The tree-lined alleys of Vinohrady and Žižkov district. For the first time in your life, you live in a neighborhood you’ve always wanted to live in. The Old Town and Little Town that you frequent the most. Your childhood park Kampa where you spent countless of afternoons and evenings riding your bike, roller-skating, or doing headstands on the grass. At least, at the age of eight you were capable of them and no weekly yoga lessons were required.

It’s the combination of the cold air and hot coffee in mid-September that reminds you why you have missed Europe so much. The crisp air and the leaves. It’s all changing colors now, and you haven’t seen the autumn show in years. You try to find beauty in almost everything. You are encapsulated by history, the way you haven’t been a while. Every street houses a building where once someone prominent has lived or died. The cobblestone streets remember the old days when horse carriages were a way of transport rather than touristic indulgence. Then, of course, the Charles Bridge. More than sixty decades old, and still standing. Millions of people walk through it, there and back again. You marvel at the beauty and history, even though you’ve walked through that part of town so many times. The charm of Europe will never cease.

You walk past Café Slavia and think of all the famous, prominent individuals who sat there, drank coffee, smoked and made the city into what it is today. Even your own parents have their history there. You walk through the streets, the tiny ones that you don’t even remember and then the most famous ones, and you take it all in. It feels good to be back. You spent the majority of your life here, and no one can really take it away from you.

Perhaps you blew your life apart four months ago and took everyone with you, but now the dust is settling, and a beautiful, strong phoenix is rising from the rubbles of your old life. You have to believe in that, in order to keep going, but at the end of the day, it isn’t that hard.

Because Prague is everything you want it to be.

the september of new beginnings


It is barely 7 pm as I begin to write this. The light is glorious, late summer evening with pink, purple, and dark blue clouds moving across the plain of the sky. The yellow, and the orange, and a hint of gray. My bedroom contains nothing but a bed and one of those cheap IKEA four-legged tables that were left behind by a previous tenant. I moved into this flat not even two days ago. I have no belongings to move in, and I like it this way.

Everything is empty, dusty. Only the walls have been given a fresh coat of paint and there is still the scent of color, every time I enter through the front door into the hall. This is my second flat in a year and a half; two different continents. I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s three times bigger than my first studio, which I shared with my other half. Now I am in a huge space, alone. Life is a symphony of ironies whose meaning strikes every once in a while so that you can be reminded of priorities. Alone is not enough. I wish I had listened to him. I wish I hadn’t given up on us.

My favorite features are the glorious wooden floorboards, french windows, and long doors to every room that are so characteristic of old European buildings. My view now consists of a church, an old horse statue, and a whole neighborhood of red roofs because I am on the fourth floor and that’s as high as you get around here.

I like the emptiness. The simplicity of the white, the wood, and daylight that comes through the second the sun is up. September is coming to an end, with the days getting shorter and colder. The change of seasons is in the air. I am traditionally ill, with a sore throat and thundering headache. The silence and the solitude, both of which I have in abundance now, contribute to my current state of mind. I am somewhere at the bottom of my life and trying to scramble the strength to crawl up. Summer was paramount in terms of where my life was headed next. The fall will show whether I did the right thing.

Summer Unraveling | Part I

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It was somewhere between Primošten and Šibenik.

We were on a boat that his father rented, a beautiful Nauticat, fourteen-meter long sailboat. I was not supposed to be there at all, and we weren’t supposed to meet. But we did. I wasn’t supposed to dismantle my life. None of it was supposed to happen, but it did.

I sat at the bow of the boat, my feet hanging down. Already darkened by constant exposure to the sun, I watched the sea as it broke apart at the front. The waves weren’t high, but I felt each one of them and each wave set me free. With nothing front of me, but the dark navy blue of the Adriatic sea and the curvy horizon of the water, I found solace in the vastness. I felt free. I felt happy for the first time in a decade. It was an unforced happiness. It was that moment that defined my life as it is now.

The day I was supposed to board my flight back to Hong Kong; I was awake at four in the morning, crying, and typing a message into my phone: I am not coming back. A single sentence is all it takes to dismantle your life. Then I missed my flight. Later that night, we stood at the gas station at the Kremik Marina, they poured Sarah’s Rose for me and wished me a happy new year. It was a new beginning. I was headed into the unknown, but not alone. He was still there by my side.

That was three months ago.

If I could have, I would have bottled those moments, kept them close to me. Words failed me. I disappeared and emerged somewhere entirely else. The initial three weeks of planned holiday turned into a free summer of the salt, the sea, and the sun. I left and never went back. Rogoznica. This beautiful bay. This tiny little place on the Dalmatian Coast that I call home. When I returned here, I was lost, broken, and tired. I didn’t know I would find myself here, discover the pieces that were missing. Lose the ones I did not want anymore. I came back to life here as if I came up for air after years of living underwater.

I bought two journals the day after he returned to reality up in the north at the end of June. One for each of the summer months. Writing was going to be the only thing that could pull me through the summer, ensure that I arrived on the other side at some point. Safe, and sound. I am here now, on the other side, but there’s still a long journey in front of me. I wrote letters to him, I wrote lists of things I am grateful for. I wrote short stories, and I wrote little poems that had no meaning in them. Recollections of thoughts and memories. I recorded everything, every day, every memory. I am going to spend the coming weeks and months rewriting all of it, weaving it into a form that, perhaps, will see the light of day once.

Or maybe not.

The beauty of each day penetrated me to the bone marrow and slowly I started feeling alive. And that was the only thing that mattered.

Return to Beginning

Mama Coffee. Žižkov. This is my hood now.

I order a double espresso with milk everywhere I go, in an attempt to recreate velika sa mlijekom. Close enough. I spent three months in Croatia, and now I am back in Prague. At least for a while. I expect that now the words will come in long-forms and frequently. The last summer days. Early morning. Prague is impossibly beautiful, historically preserved in the streets but refreshed, different. I spend my days walking around, exploring the city as if it is my first time living here. In a way it is. Nothing is the same as it once was. The city, the people, even the culture has changed here, and I am glad.

It is Tuesday. September 1. My favorite day. I moved back to Prague on Thursday but it feels as though I’d been here for two weeks, or a month, or a year. Time moves across different plains here. I am settled in, but not permanently. Tomorrow is the big day and I am anxious. I am anxious to move forward, to get started. To return to work, to begin accumulating experiences and knowledge, to travel, to live. It is strange being alone through this stage of my life but at the same time there is no other way it could be. Ten years had passed since we left Europe, and I am back now. My mind quietened down. Inner peace began to take roots the second I made a decision not to return to Asia. At the same time, I blew a hole through my heart.

September. The beginning of my year. It is a fresh beginning for me. I count the year from fall to fall and everything in between is space for growth and life, fiascos, and life-altering memories. I am trying to think of where I am going from here and I cannot even picture it. My mind gets stuck in the present and refuses to move. Beliefs that were set in stone disappeared. People that I thought I would be in my life until the end of it are gone. The anger and the despair are gone.

I am a free soul.