I am out of practice; out of breath. The words don’t come easily. I have to call for them, like for a scared stray cat. It used to be that it would all disappear. I’d turn away from myself. But instead, I just need to let it come to me and be quick about catching the right moment. A little bit like a perfectly chilled glass of wine. Tender gyoza for dinner, two nights in a row. Lebanese for lunch, again. I remain faithful to my habits even though I know there is so much more out there. I’ve made a list of neighborhoods in Prague I want to explore, revisit. It’s been far too long. I wish I loved this city the way I love all the others. The rain and gloom have slowed me down. The last few days, perhaps even weeks, have been quiet. Unusually so.
I just need to get through this month. It hasn’t been a good month so far and I feel guilty about that.
The guilt is the worst. The lack of will to do something. Anything.
I flip through my favorite books, not reading, just catching a line or two here and there.
I need to vacuum. Scrub the floor. Purge the closet space. The things I own are suffocating me.
There is an oleander in the middle of my bedroom now. We are from the same region and almost the same age. Isn’t that a weird thing to say about a plant?
I couldn’t sleep at 2 AM the other night. I stood up on the bed, feeling the extra height. I wondered what was going on in the other apartments. I practiced yoga for half an hour. Keeping myself inversed and feeling a crack in my right hip. It happens more often now. Blood rushed through my body, like life.
The only consolation about falling asleep at almost four in the morning is that light won’t come back for another few hours.
I bought a packet of sliced bread and cream cheese for dinner. Decided not to feel guilty about it.
Most of the time, I wish I lived somewhere else. Which means I am singlehandedly disrespecting Prague. For saving my life. Guilt. But cities no longer dictate how I feel.
I came to the realization that I particularly dislike turquoise hues. I started an abstract experiment color study in hopes I’ll learn to like it. It seems so unnatural.
I need to make time for my travel journal and watercolor practice.
I dream of making moussaka for him again.
Riders On The Storm. On repeat.
I’ve given in to the feeling of uncertainty. I am not sure what he means, whether he means anything at all, or what my responses should be. I’m lost. Confused. The feeling has taken over me; I move slowly, afraid I’ll bring down the house of cards if I move too quickly.
I’ve given in to the gloom. To the lack of sun. I can’t sleep at night. I can’t wake up in the morning. Then the gloom again. I feel like I’m underwater.
I gulp down my coffee in the morning, leaving the apartment untouched and messier than it’s ever been before. I return home after work and go straight to bed. I fill up the washing machine but it takes me three days to turn it on.
I’ve worn nothing but black since the beginning of November. Nothing else has felt as good.
I’ve given in to my sugar cravings. Eat the damn cake. So I do. Sometimes at eleven at a pub quiz night with a pint of cider. Naturally, I wake up feeling like absolute shit.
To survive, I’ve given in to the insatiable need to read. Moby Dick, The Great Gatsby, The Goldfinch (again!), The Catcher in the Rye, some Hemingway, some Japanese poets from Taishō period, Pablo Neruda’s poetry, Orwell’s 1984 three times in the last four months, the Millennium series, some Dan Brown before I got bored of the cookie-cutter plots, Naomi’s Klein’s book on climate, and way too many titles on Bosnia and Rwanda. Slavenka Drakulic, David Reiff, and Misha Glenny until I couldn’t read a word about the war or the genocide, the previous system or any of it. And most incredibly, Stephen King whom I managed to avoid for the past twenty-six years. James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, and Ryszard Kapuściński because I crave the worlds that aren’t European.
I crave too much. I’m never satisfied, always frustrated. I flow through days, living inside my head, hidden from the world, forgetting to breathe.
The proper verb for depression is sink.*
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.
I’m counting off the days until home. 58.