6.30 am. I’m awake. The sun won’t come up for another two hours. I count the minutes until daybreak. The deepest blues are black.
Every morning is the same — I cook coffee in a džezva on the stove. I’ve given up on specialty coffee shops. I don’t like the taste anymore. Mostly, the espressos are sour and watered down. Give me strong Italian espressos. Give me Turkish coffee with cardamom. Give me the world.
I whisk two eggs in a bowl. Pepper. Scrambled eggs take two minutes to prepare. The protein boost lasts until midday. Better than a line of blow, my mother jokes.
I message her first thing in the morning.
It takes me twenty minutes to dry my hair. I need a haircut.
It’s a public holiday in the Czech Republic. The independence of the Czechoslovak state. I see flags everywhere. Even at the front of tram carriages. Would it be treason to secretly replace them with flags of the Philippines? I wonder what’s the point of it all.
Again, I’m too early at the airport. No passport control.
I think how national borders are meaningless. Artificial, imagined. Imagined Borders.
I dreamt of Costa Rica. Emptiness. I shouldn’t miss him.
My plane is beginning to descend. A weekend in the Netherlands awaits me. Prague, it’s not you; it’s me.
I can feel all the places I’m yet to go. Brimming inside me. Waiting. I already know everything I need to know. It’s the question of reaching that knowledge wherever it is.
I wake up to heavy raindrops beating on my windows. I accidentally left one of the double-glass wings cracked open the night before; a rush of cold air envelops me.
Even at seven in the morning, orange street light fills my apartment. It feels so unnatural. Ugly. I stretch slowly and groan. I am dreading the upcoming winter weeks. Because late October feels bad enough already. Recently, a friend told me, you are a solar-powered human. I truly am.
The live version of This Time for Africa has been on repeat this entire week. The song rings in my mind when I am not listening to it.
One more day. Before I leave again.
I run down my list of upcoming trips and I feel blessed, grounded, and grateful. Being able to leave whenever I want calms me down.
I’ve been practicing. Breathing, writing daily, keeping my head high, and clear.
My body craves inversions. I fold myself up in a door frame with ease now.
Too much sugar lately. Daily chocolate, homemade almond macarons. But it’s only temporary.
Ale léto bylo příjemné, ne? She asked me. I winced at the choice of her words and wondered whether she was mocking me because secretly she knew. A woman’s intuition. Smoke circled around us in transparent clouds and I felt his gaze just behind my left shoulder.
Yeah, the summer was great, I replied. It wasn’t a lie but at the same time, I sighed a breath of relief when the last days of August rolled into September. It meant I could start over. Hit refresh as if that would somehow make all the unfortunate disappear. I’ve lost count how many times I already thought that I am done. This is the last one. One more and all my marbles will be gone. Except it seems that I always have one more tragedy in me. One more, then one more.
I barely slept in the summer and it wasn’t until he was gone and I returned to books that I realized that he was the cause of my partial insomnia and unconscious teeth-grinding. I felt like I needed to live up to an ideal manufactured in his head and I couldn’t match his dreams with hair color or auditory abilities. I wasn’t willing to listen to him. Or trust him.
Everything changed after the Of Montreal concert. Everything changed after he drove me home and filled my fridge with all things coconut. Everything changed when the sun no longer shone but he still was one. That’s when I finally let go of all the fabricated notions of my emotions — the illusions — and accepted that despite how we ended, the story of four hugs was only a beginning.
Then I left again. I keep leaving and I think one day I won’t come back anymore. It’s happened before.
This entire year — my life when I think about it — is just me acting in a series of scenes where I am leaving and coming back. Shuffling between work and my apartment; the seaside and Prague; them and him. I’ve been avoiding writing. Which is to say, I’ve been avoiding myself.
Because there are things that I cannot write about; things I don’t want to write about. I carried them around for a while like carry-on luggage. Quite like the one with his name written in blue pen on one side of it. I’ve been meaning to return it – give it away except it would make no difference in the grand scheme of things. It wasn’t until I started sleeping, it wasn’t until I woke up with a clear head in the morning that it became safe enough for me to return to my words. To myself.
I stopped holding my inhalations in and started breathing again.