Still Croatia. Croatia again. I’m so grateful for these trips back home. I wouldn’t be able to keep keeping on without them.
First, it was gloomy and windy. I fell asleep right after breakfast; nine chapters into A Passage to India. One more day here.
At one the weather cleared and suddenly it was hot, sunny, blue, calm. I immediately went down the hill for a swim and stayed. The sea makes me a better person.
A quick run to the supermarket. I bought a Znanje paperback of a John Grisham novel. It’s the same one I saw in Venice two months ago after he told me about it. When I still didn’t know who it was. Circles of life.
A quick bike ride around the half-island. My father asked me to bring him a different fishing rod; a tiny bay hidden between the pine trees. I hiked up the steep hill, feeling the sweat down my spine.
Back to the other side. Past the firemen’s station. My place. The sky was swollen with rain by then. Silver. The sea reflected a deep grey and blue. It felt like nothing moved. Sun rays in straight lines. Mufasa still looks after me.
Primošten. It’ll always be my favorite place. My sweetheart.
Of course, he wants to come again. I typed up a response, more of a provocation, and poured a jug of wine. Out on the terrace, feet up, the wind keeps blowing.
Tomorrow, I leave. Tomorrow, I need to get back on the track.
I don’t think I’ll sleep outside tonight but I’ll keep the sliding door opened.
Listened to thesethreesongs on repeat. Read a lot. More than usually, that is. Drank wine in beer gardens. Missed another flight. Booked a different one. Instead of three weeks, I spent ten days at home by the sea and felt grateful every single day. Slept outside on the terrace under the stars every night. Swam in the bay. Swam in the open sea. Cooked coffee on the stove in dzezva. More often, it’d be maman who’d do it for me. For some reason, hers is always better. Drank espressos strong as hell from tiny cups with Almodovar images on them. Spent a morning in Split. A morning in Zagreb. A weekend away from Prague when things looked very positive but they weren’t. Drank flavored water: watermelon, mint, and basil. Drank way too much coffee. Stopped smoking cigarettes for a while then started again. Came to a realization that the circle of people around me is too wide and that I need to narrow it down. A self-preservation thing of sorts. Went to of Montreal with a special someone. Wrote lists of things I felt grateful for at my corner coffee shop. Some mornings I’d wake up to different messages: from the sunshine, from my barista (the coffee is waiting for you!), from friends across the globe, from First Love, from the one I left behind. This month, more than any other, I’d been reminded that I am not alone. At all. It doesn’t matter what he used to say anymore. Some nights, I’d stay wide awake until 5.30 am, not being able to sleep. Some nights, I wouldn’t sleep at all. Others, I’d be under covers at nine. Spent a few days waiting around hospitals. When he was there, it was indefinitely easier and I am grateful that he refused to leave me alone. Wrote more lists of things. Mostly to soothe my mind. To feel the ground under my feet. To be reminded that I am a lioness.
The beginning started in Split — just like last year. The same raw steak with mangold and a bottle of impeccable red wine. All the blue, the salty air, the beating heart of what home is. Nine days of bliss. With the first sunset of the year, I left the seaside. As we drove up north, it became darker and colder; a thin moon crescent followed me through the window. The second I lost sight of the sea, the sinking feeling flooded me. A melancholic sadness of sorts. Similar to the way one thinks of a lost love. The way I think of him. It’s always the same.
Tiny Zagreb airport. A home between the homes. I slept three hours and instead of an alarm clock, I heard the staff come in to work at the check-in counters. My flight was so early the sun wasn’t going to come up for another five hours. First coffee of the day at 4.15 am. My eyes burned from the lack of sleep and I couldn’t shake away the screenshot of his email from my mind. Three dots, a question mark. A bit like my naivete. Happy New Year. No sleep except for everyone on the plane. My hands shook too much to write and I couldn’t read because words danced before my eyes, so I flipped through the in-flight magazine just to do something only to be hit in the face with a full-page Victorinox ad featuring The Center and nothing else. Of all Hong Kong skylines, they picked his. I shut my eyes close but slumber never came. Of course not.
I came back to Prague uneasy; I came back to snow, deadlines, conversations that never happened, and having to face the reality. But I’m not blinded by fear and insecurity of the unknown anymore.
The hope for this year is to stop at nothing. To keep believing. To never settle for less.
Post scriptum — the title is a nod to George Michael.