It was somewhere between Primošten and Šibenik.
We were on a boat that his father rented, a beautiful Nauticat, fourteen-meter long sailboat. I was not supposed to be there at all, and we weren’t supposed to meet. But we did. I wasn’t supposed to dismantle my life. None of it was supposed to happen, but it did.
I sat at the bow of the boat, my feet hanging down. Already darkened by constant exposure to the sun, I watched the sea as it broke apart at the front. The waves weren’t high, but I felt each one of them and each wave set me free. With nothing front of me, but the dark navy blue of the Adriatic sea and the curvy horizon of the water, I found solace in the vastness. I felt free. I felt happy for the first time in a decade. It was an unforced happiness. It was that moment that defined my life as it is now.
The day I was supposed to board my flight back to Hong Kong; I was awake at four in the morning, crying, and typing a message into my phone: I am not coming back. A single sentence is all it takes to dismantle your life. Then I missed my flight. Later that night, we stood at the gas station at the Kremik Marina, they poured Sarah’s Rose for me and wished me a happy new year. It was a new beginning. I was headed into the unknown, but not alone. He was still there by my side.
That was three months ago.
If I could have, I would have bottled those moments, kept them close to me. Words failed me. I disappeared and emerged somewhere entirely else. The initial three weeks of planned holiday turned into a free summer of the salt, the sea, and the sun. I left and never went back. Rogoznica. This beautiful bay. This tiny little place on the Dalmatian Coast that I call home. When I returned here, I was lost, broken, and tired. I didn’t know I would find myself here, discover the pieces that were missing. Lose the ones I did not want anymore. I came back to life here as if I came up for air after years of living underwater.
I bought two journals the day after he returned to reality up in the north at the end of June. One for each of the summer months. Writing was going to be the only thing that could pull me through the summer, ensure that I arrived on the other side at some point. Safe, and sound. I am here now, on the other side, but there’s still a long journey in front of me. I wrote letters to him, I wrote lists of things I am grateful for. I wrote short stories, and I wrote little poems that had no meaning in them. Recollections of thoughts and memories. I recorded everything, every day, every memory. I am going to spend the coming weeks and months rewriting all of it, weaving it into a form that, perhaps, will see the light of day once.
Or maybe not.
The beauty of each day penetrated me to the bone marrow and slowly I started feeling alive. And that was the only thing that mattered.