before sunrise

Reading in Brussels.

You’re probably wondering, “What is a place like me doing in a girl like this?” “Yeah, something like that.”*

The problem with writing is that once the people in it disappear you don’t know what to do with your own words. I’ve been quiet; as quiet as one can possibly be with the words brimming somewhere in the depths of my insides. I am scared to write it all down. Because later I could find myself at this point again; the point where I don’t know what to do with my own words. But I must do the thing — I must do what scares me the most.

Things change so fast. I’ve barely had the time to unpack my suitcase, settle down into my life of quiet mornings, and coffee, and counting the sunshine days. I fail terribly at staying still. I had to go again. To Brussels, to Banja Luka, to Barrandov. I’d finished the 1300+ word piece on my little European adventure; four countries in four days with a stranger. In the meantime, I’ve collected more books and more miles. And other things: heartache, sleepless nights, painkillers three times the recommended dosage, additional weight around my hips, designer eyebags.

By the time I sat down to edit, it was all irrelevant. Now it sits there, in the draft folder, all 1325 words of it and it’s rotting to shit. And I was surprised. Even though, I didn’t have the right to be surprised; I am not entitled to anything. It suddenly scared and angered me (at the same time) that the substance of relationships in my life boils down to nothing. They come, they go. I’m left unbothered by the unsaved numbers. Can’t even do that fucking much. Because why should I? Who are these people? Except.

All it takes is one moment, one look. It was still April and everything unraveled on its own. Before everything else. That’s the crucial bit. It felt like watching my own movie. I left work one evening later than I normally would and took the metro back into town; something I don’t do often. Before running into him on the platform, I’d only seen him once and I stood there for a few seconds in front of him, not really certain that’s him because I didn’t know him and because it had been seven full years since the first and last encounter. I took a deep breath and I stepped forward. Is that really you? His demeanor released my tension in three train stops. Then he got off.

A few weeks later, we agreed on a coffee date that ended up being everything but. Londýnská; my favorite street in all of Prague if I had to pick one. It was one of those first summer evenings, warm enough to sit outside through the whole night. Wine and words flowed; and all the pleasant things that happen when two people shoot out sparks. And oh, the laughter. If freedom had a taste, it would taste like that night.

With my inhibitions gone, with my heart warmed by red wine and the glow of his eyes, with the evening closer to morning more than anything else; I let a compliment slip from my lips, released softly like a new butterfly. You’re better than most books, I said to him because that’s what we’d been talking about for the past two hours and that coming from me, the voracious reader, had to carry some weight. He looked at me differently after that, and I knew the line was crossed. It was a sweet feeling, to be looked at like that by someone like him, and a different emotion settled in my gut. Something firm and unknown but wonderful.

I don’t know what to do with my writing when the people in it disappear but the hope is that I won’t have to do anything at all because he’ll still be here; that instead, we’ll grow together with time. The hope for this year was to stop at nothing, to not settle for less. I think I can say that I lived up to my own words.