I battle with sleep. I battle with my brain that refuses to settle. I change my mind so often I am not sure how I ever make a decision about anything at all. And yet, it’s one of the things that I am actually good at. Making decisions, that is.
Everything seems to have fallen on me in an abundance: the number of flights taken, glasses of wine drunk, packs of cigarettes inhaled, nights of broken sleep (that I still managed to pull through). Which makes me all the more grateful for someone like him. I am not ready to put it into words yet. It doesn’t seem fair.
It was a Monday when maman called about our grandmother. We’d been waiting for it for so long that I wasn’t even sure how to react when it finally happened. I sat in the darkness of the Harrison conference room, thinking. I knew instantly I had to go home. For the funeral, but mostly for my dad. I didn’t want to leave without anyone knowing. I craved support but the type you don’t have to ask for and with him, I don’t have to ask for anything at all. I’ve been taking more than I’ve been giving; the damage is self-apparent already.
Four days in Bosnia exhausted me. Emotionally, physically. I returned to Zagreb and downed three glasses of wine just to feel my pulse again. Bosnia is my motherland and I don’t have any need to ever go back there. If that’s not the definition of the sinking feeling, I don’t know what is. Back to Zagreb airport, back to Prague. Back to nothing. Except not really. It felt like there was something to return to and that was a new feeling. A scary new feeling.
With this return to Prague, I am okay with being back. Okay with being for the time being. I’ve been hanging out around my neighborhood, mostly alone, but not always. Vietnamese for breakfast with a double espresso and an early-summer downpour that drenched me to the bone before I could reach my front door. Mornings at my corner coffee shop with a law book and hopes for the future. Mornings with him. Mornings alone. Obsessed with light and time. I haven’t been this content in a long time but when was the last time that lasted?
I am back in Kampa Park almost every day after work for a toasted ham and cheese sandwich with sweet tomatoes and a glass of white wine. Kampa is my childhood park; I’ve grown together with the trees. The entire area still breathes the same way and I always feel a little bit more like myself after each visit. Happy or some version of it. Sometimes, it’s just me with a book. Sometimes, the Three Musketeers join me. Sometimes, it’s the Balkan gang, but the point of it all is that I am never alone. Not really. Despite what I might think at three in the morning; I am never alone.
I wanted to write about the daylight and the sunsets and the stars visible from the terraces on the night sky. About falling asleep on his shoulder and not waking up once throughout the night. About conflicting feelings that live inside me now; day in, day out. I wanted to write about not being able to write. Something holds my tongue back and I can’t find the right words. For the things I want to tell him; things I want to tell my parents; things I can’t say to my grandmother anymore.
I can’t find the right words, and in retrospect, I miss the opportunities because I am scared shitless.
Yeah, you read that right.
Me: the fearless, the independent, the insane one. Scared.
I am scared of figments that I’ve never been afraid of before. That I have nothing to offer to anyone. That I am not good enough. That my health will start to deteriorate for no reason sometime soon despite being only twenty-six. That I will never write a book. That I will never write that screenplay or that novel. That I can’t write to save my own life. That I will never leave Europe, even though Asia will never depart from within me, which will render me abandoned in a state of constant mental torture of being in a place where I don’t want to be. Not that I know where I want to be. That he will disappear just like they all always do (I’ve done quite a lot of leaving on my own, though) because once you get past the bookish, anachronic version of me and realize that there is a lot of neuroticism involved I am suddenly not so cute anymore. Don’t explain, don’t apologize*. I am not a fucking walk in the park.
The answer to what’s left to do? is a simple one: face your fears.
I sat on the edge of my bed, cross-legged, with all the windows opened. With my back straight and regular deep breaths, I felt calm. Composed, present. Soft, fresh breeze caressed my hair and I kept taking long sips from a water bottle. The sunset in front of me was mesmerizing. In my mind, a long list of gratitude formed. I reached a certain degree of nirvana. I haven’t been able to keep my mind still the last few weeks; anxiety seeps into my evenings, especially the ones when I am alone. Everything always seems different at night. Tiny panic attacks that grip at my heart and I wake up in sweat at four o’clock in the morning, seemingly without a reason. But I know there is one. There is always a reason. The question of death and being left alone has been bothering me since that Monday a few weeks back. I can’t form the words quick or well enough to voice them when I am in the company of people. Maybe someone could say something in return that would soothe me. I’ve never been good at saying the right things at the right time. Always some meaning somewhere that is nearly impossible to catch by those who don’t know me. But that night; that moment on my bed — I was completely alone, physically and in my head. We are one. Nothing was missing. Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt. I want those moments to be part of my life the way a tiny cup of espresso is. I want, I want, I want. Except you can’t always get what you want.
Summer; it’s here. Finally. The hot days with endless blue skies, sun, and torrential downpours that come when I need them the most. At five in the morning, at five in the afternoon. I move and the universe moves with me. Quiet afternoon sessions at Wine Food Market; just me and an espresso. I carry a couple of books and a notebook in my tote bag because it seems that I need to be reminded of my roots more often than not.
My old life is creeping up on me again. I recognize the habits; the coffee drinking, the feeling of elation, and being surrounded by people who don’t know me at all but might as well know me the most. The line is too thin. Sometimes, it feels like I am just floating around. No real purpose.
Except on days when I sleep through the entire night without waking up once. When instead of an alarm clock, the big spoon wakes me softly. On days, when I am surrounded by people who could not be more different than I am and yet we match. Still, somehow. When I listen to old songs, and I feel nothing. There’s none of that weight on my shoulders anymore. The phantom pain was replaced by an actual one. I can only blame last month’s trip to Bosnia for this. And I hate the way I call the country by its name instead of “last month’s trip home”. Because it’s everything but and a certain feeling of worthlessness ambushed me. Out of nowhere. There was no time to readjust. I just had to accept it. And now I have to work my way up out of the rabbit hole unless I want to bring everyone else down with me.
Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different?