notes of november | on the road

Dear November,

next time, could you please slow down? Thank you.

But of course, it cannot. Of course, it won’t. Time doesn’t wait. Twenty days have passed. And they have been full twenty days.

I am trying hard not to push it. Writing, relationships, friendships, everything that matters. Sometimes I slip up; leaving traces of anger and impatience everywhere I go. Thoughtless messages and words. I did okay in November – at the beginning. At least for a while.

November. I spent a lot of time on the train. To and from Prague. I finally headed out east where I had never been until now. Where the industrial areas are, where there aren’t as many trees, where the fog hangs low much longer than other parts of the country. I could barely understand anybody in Ostrava, and there was too much talk about football for my liking, but if you’re around and in desperate need for a coffee (as I always tend to be), Ostravanka makes a kick-ass flat white.

That week alone I traveled within four different countries. Prague, being centered in the heart of Europe as it is, makes it easy. I popped over to Poland one Sunday for coffee and breakfast and warm white wine served in champagne glasses. Everything was quiet, closed, deserted. Cieszyn was a reflection of my own feelings. Although, I love getting out of the capital, I realized over and over that I could not live anywhere else in the Czech Republic but in Prague. There’s something about all the other places that makes me cautious and bored at the same time.

I spent five days walking around Vienna, drinking melanges, and eating my weight in apfelstrudels with vanilla sauce. There were mornings, afternoons, and evenings spent with my namesake over authentic Bosnian coffee with an Egyptian spice. My dearest friend from this year, someone I had forgotten before. But she came back into my life this summer, and I am grateful for her friendship. Summer wasn’t enough for us, so the fall saw us again, and so will winter. One afternoon, I hid in the Albertina Musem with Monet, Picasso, and Munch. The last morning in Vienna saw the most glorious sunrise I have seen in a while. As I boarded the train to Bratislava, everything fell right in the world.

In Slovakia, there wasn’t enough time for anything but breakfast and lunch. With the right people, it’s all you need. Brothers Coffee did not disappoint, and I walked away with two issues of the Standart Magazine. I am now a devout reader.

November. I watched as the trees lost their leaves, all the color fallen on the pavement. Then the wind came and took it all away, leaving only skeletons of nature on the ground. Everything is different now. Winter is nothing like the summer. It’s okay, though. At least, I keep telling myself that.

living life to the fullest


November arrived on a glorious Sunday of blue skies, crisp air, and sunbeams cutting through the forests in Southern Bohemia.

I spent the weekend surrounded by nature and the oldest friends in my life. It was a weekend of scrumptious indulgence; homemade carrot cake, pasta with cherry tomatoes and tuna, rabbit with cabbage, excellent coffee, and a bottle of white wine. These and a hearty conversation heavily interrupted with laughter are the ingredients that make a weekend the way it’s meant to be.

I remember as a kid it’s what we used to do. Get together with our favorite people over food, and everything else would just come on its own. It feels as though this art of living life to the fullest with a sense of relevance, not in a materialistic way, was lost somewhere in the last decade. Lately I’ve been paying attention to this more.

I mean, these are the things that matter. I’ve been slipping away at the edges of meaningfulness in my life. Relationships with those around me, ingredients that I put in my body, and topics that overload my brain but contribute to very little. I lost touch with nature, with humanity. Perhaps, as a result of ten years in an overcrowded Asian city, perhaps not. I lost touch with the person I’ve always aspired to be. But now it’s all slowly coming back, like the first sun rays in spring, thawing away the icy surface, warming and awakening the heart inside.

Despite the difficulties of the past few months, I believe that, come actual spring, everything will fall into place. It’s the only reason for all of this.

Are you okay?


He used to ask me. All the time. Every day the question would come. When I expected it, and when I didn’t. I could always count him to ask me: “Are you okay?”

And the answer would usually be the same. “Yes, I’m okay.” Even when I wasn’t. And he would know. He had the gift of knowing how I felt. Now there is only a shape left after him.

He doesn’t ask as much anymore. Sometimes, but not like before. Of course, not like before. Nothing is what it used to be.

Now that he is no longer the one asking, I found myself directing the question at people around me. A friend at work, someone I am just getting to know, acquaintances. Every time it rolls off my tongue, I think of him. And I want to ask him.

Are you okay?