Saturday: I rolled out of bed at noon, made coffee, put a load to wash. I decided that the rest can wait a little longer.
This realization. That I don’t have to do something all the time. That I can just sit at the table, drink coffee. And do not much else.
A warm October Saturday. The simplicity of eating my lunch in a park from the best Vietnamese bistro in Prague. With the sun in my face and the blue sky behind my back.
I wait for my two halves to arrive. Updates from the road every hundred kilometers. I think of Slovenia, of Austria. Of the mountains and the highways. It’s been a long time since I drove across those countries.
I had just sat down outside of Happy Bean coffee shop. He came out of nowhere. “Do you know anywhere I can find real chocolate-chip cookies?” I suggested a couple of places in the area. He came back soon, empty-handed. “I’ll see you later tonight?” We are officially neighbors now.
When I saw him again, he was crunching on a Granny Smith apple and offered me a half. “Wine?” “Wine not.” From Sydney to Prague for Love.
But there’s something about him. Foil-thin contempt for people; a bread crust of optimism that perhaps it isn’t all so bad. But underneath, something rotten and awful and he tries to hide it with manicured teeth and superficial laugh. But there is something there. Something. He walked out of the room. Crunching on peanuts for a change. He walked away from me lost in thought, almost like he was moonwalking. I wish he’d stop snorting up lines in the back room. I wish he’d stop thinking he’s fooling me. At the same time, I love that he knows who he is. His values shine from him. The circumstances don’t define him. And that’s fine.
I can’t help but ask, who is he?
Žižkov. I love my neighborhood.
October is the month I return to Russian classics in literature. Perhaps, it’s the gloom.
I started my morning on a bad note. One of those conversations that I don’t even care about. But it’s still all on my mind and I’m living it out internally. Then the paranoia. That this will do me in. I have to remember that the paternal side is looking over me. The pigeons.
I remembered an old habit of mine back in high school. Solving a medium sudoku on the ride from Yau Ma Tei to Kowloon Tong. One day each. Towards the end of a semester, it’d take me four minutes. I should go back to this. The 25 I have now will give me a head start.
The weather is bleak and I’m back in all black. Becoming resilient to stress doesn’t mean getting accustomed to it. I stopped counting the grays. There are there because I keep failing myself on the internal work. It’s hard. Do it.
Shang Hai. Then Plzeň.
Then gloom again.
Još malo pa će ponoć. Neko me nešto pitao za Bosnu i ja sam eksplodirala. Razlog? Pitala me prošli tjedan kad ću kući. Plus mu je danas rođendan a ne poznam ga 27 godina. Pa šta da kažem? Na to sve?
Had to step out for a brisk walk in the fresh autumnal air. The evening suffocated me.
You know the way you sometimes hope you won’t run into anyone you know but then, of course, you do? But I simply said I’d rather be alone.
And then the two of them. Barely kissed by life. The closest one sitting next to me asked, what’d you say to him? I couldn’t understand what she meant. She said, well, he went away after you spoke to him. And I told her. She was confused at the fact that it worked. She was confused at the fact that basic and more importantly, polite communication works.
The point is every action has a reaction. Every behavior is an action. You must understand this. You must understand the consequences of your own actions.
She held out her hand to, finally, introduce herself. I smelled of lime for hours afterward. He smiled with relief when he saw me sitting there; still. I realized he was glad because he thought I’d left already. But he never asks me anything. Only follows my movements with his brown eyes. Strangers in a familiar space.
Sixty minutes of my time. Sixty minutes of a Sunday. Eminem came on just before midnight and I thought about how we both changed. The kind of change that is good.
La Dame aux Camélias. Stephen King. Palestinian literature from a SOAS syllabus. The Brothers Karamazov. Sartre, always Sartre now.
I am back at the office three hours before anyone else after just four hours of sleep. Delhi, London, Prague. I think about time zones. I think about how I’m going to get through the day.
I asked him to give me ten or fifteen minutes of his time. Some issues I wanted to talk about. Instead, he took me for coffee and listened for an hour and a half. I may have been wrong about him and it felt good to consider that possibility. We came up with solutions that’ll keep everyone happy. After three years, they need to see me for who I am.
An espresso at Wood Food Market. I think of those weeks after I came back from Rome how I’d come back every morning and relive my Italian dream. I make a note to look up the flights later. Of course.
I look up other flights, too. London, Bourdeaux, Paris, Edinburgh, Barcelona, maybe Madrid. It’s what I do now. This is how I live. Why stay in one place? Nothing is keeping me here.
That feeling used to feel like freedom. Now it feels like a routine.
Sometimes I daydream and I imagine him saying, could you not go this weekend? Stay at home with me. And then I’d miss my flight. I imagine cooking food for others, I imagine having someone to take care of.
By yourself is not enough. I think he was right then.
And it’s such a hard truth to swallow.
Seven degrees at seven in the morning. It’s only the third Monday since I’ve been back in Prague but the Adriatic sea feels like a concept from a long time ago. Maybe something, maybe nothing. This is my neighborhood. I am in denial when it comes to summer’s end. I am in denial in general. There will be a few problems you can’t fully solve on your own. Suffice it to say you can’t wholly exist solo. Make use of the lion in the back of the room. They have been waiting for this moment. Back at Bombay Express; I order enough food for two even though I am alone. Chana masala, chicken sagwala, extra naan, extra yogurt. Later in the evening, I had no issues finding the number twenty-four. Almost two hours of what was supposed to be a calming meditation but I wasn’t able to let myself go. I spaced out instead, drowned my consciousness. Eventually, I just gave up. The second I was out of the door, relief flushed over me. I called a cab because it was a quicker way to get away. I saw him kiss her on the forehead from afar. Almost affectionately. I almost felt it myself. It was a cold night. I listened to his stories from Vienna, Budapest, and Zagreb for the rest of it and for a moment I was glad he was back.