One of my sisters sent me a message recently about this trip. Amongst the advice and concern was an insightful sentence she wrote, “One thing is for certain, you have cleared away any stagnation in your life, right?”. Yes, big sister, you are indeed extremely right! Before this trip, Mike and I probably had fallen in to the typical committed relationship routine. It’s hard being active when you have the person you enjoy being with the most at home while grub hub and Netflix await. For the entire extent of our relationship, I had been in school. In May 2019 I finished grad school and spent the summer recovering from completing my artistic thesis. Tossed off our new comfy couch, we had to haul our booties to Europe and face a lot of unknowns. I know, “Boo hoo! You’re in Europe, bitch!”. We have been involved in dynamic, sometimes extremely difficult projects individually, but this was the first time we wouldn’t be able to get into our jammies, make a big bowl of truffle parm popcorn and decompress while watching whatever series had struck our fancy recently. I never had any kind of stability growing up or even in my early adulthood. What I had with Mike was the first time I knew what “feeling safe” felt like. Everything would be new and scary but I jumped right in. “Eeeeeeeeeeeek!”. I’m cold, can someone get me a towel?
Naked and Afraid
Great SCOTT! This is Heavy. According to legend, I’m here currently because I rubbed this statue last year. Yep I dared rub it again, but only a little! Statues are powerful! image Description: Me, wearing a black tank top, and vintage flower printed skirt. I am on the Charles Bridge, many people also are gathered on the bridge. i am touching a Baroque stature on the bridge but only with the tip of my pointer finer. I am smiling while wearing large white sunglasses.
Great Scott! This is Heavy.
I did that thing where you wake up and you’re totally confused as to where you are. That first second when I snoozed my alarm for the last time and I still thought I’m at home. Excitement and a tiny bit of dread crept in. I was getting used to being in a different country but there was another layer of anxiety that came with the thought of Mike leaving. We had one day together in Prague and then we had to hoof it to Brno, Then, we’d just have two days together which would mostly be taken up with settling in to the new apartment, setting up a local bank account and sorting out my cell phone situation. Then he’d be gone and I’d truly be on my own. I was anticipating how gutting it would be to have him leave. It took a lot of mind over matter to switch gears and view this as a chance to regain a sense of independence. I’d get so much research and writing don, I thought to myself. Guilt also started to creep in. I was in one of the most beautiful cities in the world and I was having a hard time being present in that. I told myself that I was in survivor mode and to not be hard on myself.
After cuddling, showering and getting dressed, we partook in the breakfast provided downstairs. I had the best dugonut of my life down there. It was warm, freshly baked with a lovely Bavarian type of cream in the center. For a moment, all that sugar and carbs made me feel better. Mother nature was on our side and we walked out into a lovely end of summer day. Again, the bits that were familiar to me soothed my shaky soul. “It’s going to be okay.” I told myself. As I walked with my Payless sandals on those previously mentioned cobblestones, I realized I would soon have a problem. While these sandals were totally fine for walking around on the flat sidewalks of Jersey City and New York, they were not up to the task of traversing these Czech streets. My right foot has undergone several surgeries due to a series of complications from Type I Diabetes. I have what is called “Charcot foot”, where the arc hit lecture of my foot has changed and continues to change. Part of my heel bone is totally missing, and when it was diagnosed, the doctor told me it looked like a bus had run over it. Thanks Doc. You sound like your brain was run over by a team of mean dogs. This is all to say, I had to buy new sandals. It was way too hot to wear my sneakers; my feet would be all sweaty…and they wouldn’t go with my pretty dresses.
Malls are to Jersey as Castles ar to Prague
We hit the nearest mall, The Palladium. I know that there was also a Lush in here, and I wanted to possibly check it out if Mike was up to it. As soon as we entered, I smelled the lush store and like a dog, I was able to find it just using my nose! This really amused us both, we were giggling as Mike pretended to pet my head like a dog, saying, “Good, Bojana!”. He is very sensitive to the strong scents emanating from all the soaps, cleansers and lotions in there, so I went in on a mission to get in and out like Shadowcat. Worldwide conglomerates, capitalism and the repercussions of all of that are terrible but damn, it was nice to just go in and ask for the “sleepy face” cleanser and get what I heeded almost 4,000 miles away from home. At least Lush’s agenda is one I can get more behind than lets’ say, McDonald’s. I’ve be back for my “light touch” moisturizer!
We then went to one of the many shoe stores in the mall. The shoes are definitely made to withstand the seriousness of the cobble stones. All of the soles of the shoes were very hard, and unbending. I was looking at some of the high heeled shoes in wonderment. How in the hell do people wear these? What is the broken ankle count like here? Are podiatrists the wealthiest types of doctor? Together, we found the perfect pair-practical but cool, good ankle support and a sole that would protect my precious feet. Now I was ready to hit the streets and run amok! Amuck Amok! Amok!
Magical Statues and Puppets Rocking Out
Running amok entailed us heading to the Charles Bridge, where we had gone several times while we were here last. I noticed Mike was more quiet than usual. Turns out he was feeling sad about me leaving. He had been so stoic throughout everything, and now reality was setting in. This slightly panicked me. I was relying on him to ensure that I was okay in all of this. I hadn’t realized how selfish I may have been being. Our mantra became, “let’s just focus on the time we have together now, and not when we will be apart.” This helped as a reset button, but getting caught up in the pit of despair was inevitable. On the bridge, we were greeted by throngs of tourists getting the last glimpse of the historic site before the cold weather began. We hear d the mix of jazz and classical music when we were strolling. One person had a puppet playing classical guitar! Mike is not usually impressed by…anything but this did the trick! There is a statue which you can rub for good luck and/or to ensure that you come back to Prague someday. Mike said I rubbed it too hard last year, which may explain my yearlong jaunt currently. He told me, chuckling “Don’t rub it so much this time, today? ‘Just to be safe, I only rubbed it with the tip of my pointer finger.
The way we had been traveling together in the past was, I would make the suggestions and Mike would find how to get to local places of interest. For our stay in Prague, I chose Esca for a celebratory dinner. It had won a “Big Gourmand” from the Michelin. Our plan after we took in some of the sights.
Esca? I Hardly Knew Her!?
We got back to our hotel and got into our finest duds. I had brought this vintage dress which had looked way too much like a Kimono and I had the sleeve revived. Not feeling too comfortable with the connotations of cultural appropriation. Mike had been resistant to bringing nice shoes for such a short trip, but I had urged him so we could just feel a notch fancier than shorts and teas. He agreed, thankfully. I was excited to find this place, it seemed to be welcoming yet a high level of attention paid to the food. Last time, we hadn’t really gone out to any special kinds of restaurants. It was just kind of like, “What’s the closest and open?”.
Esca was next to some kind of hip music venue and when we walked a little aimlessly trying to find the entrance to the restaurant, a bouncer looking dude pointed us in the right direction. I suppose Mike’s shiny dress shoes tipped him off. As many couples who have been together may know, you start to share a brain in a way. In this instance, we both thought. “Brooklyn.”. This spot was industrial, modern and yet had a welcoming vibe. On the first floor, they had a bakery and coffee roasting space, which you could watch the people making it all. After we gave our names for the reservation, we walked up the one flight of stairs into a really lovely space. Lots of concrete, metal and glass but the lighting felt intimate. After we got seated at our table, I noticed a large vase of flowers. I looked around and didn’t see any similar silhouettes on the other tables. Turns out, when Mike had made our reservations, he had been given the option to purchase flowers for the table! It’s these little sparkly moments which really make me feel cared for. Like, one winter, Mike had bought me an electric blanket, and I thought it was the most romantic thing. I gushed over these for quite a bit.
Food and art are things Mike and I enjoy the most, and as with the art we experience, we like our food to surprise us. There was a five-course tasting menu and we went for it. The prices here were unbelievably more affordable for us and so, how could we not? Unluckily for me, the first thing was a beef tar tar and the texture and flavor was not jiving with my mouth. Luckily, Mike loved it and ate it all. Again, this is reflective of how we also take in art, sometimes I hate something and he may love it.
Things got better for me, and we gobbled up everything else that came along. Mike let me have a delicious smoked eggplant dish since I had to pass on the tar tar. As we were digesting and finishing our Czech wine, the thought of being apart settled into our thoughts once again. I knew I wouldn’t have a dinner like this for at least until December and that was four months away. Everything was so easy with him; he was the person I was most comfortable with. He was good at orientation and is a large man with a very sturdy build, which made me always feel safe when holding on to his arm for support and guidance. A routine had been set into place when we came to a restaurant, he’d find a table, he’d read the menu, order from the waiter, tell me where the food was and then either use my credit card or his to pay. I’d provide the interesting conversation. Along with my closest human, I was going to be faced with doing all this kind of stuff on my own. While not speaking the language…and not seeing. Fortunately, beer cost less than water here and it was available at every turn, so there’s that.
Do You Believe in Life After Prague?
Do You Believe in Life After Prague?
I had just started to feel a little settled and it was time to leave Prague an make our way to Brno, the capital of the Moravian part of the Czech Republic. As expected, the train station was a complete goat rodeo but we had time, and a little magic on our side. I was nervous about meeting my landlord, him and the apartment seemed too good to be true. What was the “bad thing” going to be? His mother was still living there? The apartment was actually a cardboard box? He was just going to steal all my vintage clothes?? Right when we stepped out of the cab, the landlord came and greeted us. He picked up one of the heavy backpacks and led us to the building. I had anticipated there wouldn’t be an elevator, but there was! Less chances of me tripping and falling down to my demise, what a relief.
started to shove its way into my brain. I hadn’t felt this way for a long time.
In some kind of nervous insecure moment…it was my inner “mind flayer”, I
suppose. I didn’t want the landlord to know I was living with profound vision
loss. I tried my best to follow him into the building, while Mike was
navigating with the two rolling suitcases. We got up to the apartment and he
asked if I liked it. It was dim in the apartment and I couldn’t yet really make
out everything. I just said, “Yes!”. Maybe
I was in this totally mew space and didn’t want to feel vulnerable? Maybe I
didn’t want him to think I’d be a burden? Who knew what he was really like? So,
I tried to play it cool, not really moving from the spot I had found when I
walked in. I thought I had gotten past
this, but here I was in a completely different country and I had gotten a
playing card that read, “go back ten steps” .
The big bad reveal? There wasnt’ any air conditioning. It was about 90 digreess and so, this was NOT cool. So far, this had been the only thing that was less than ideal. I was happy to be washing my clothes in a washing machine here in the apartment and then putting them out on the balcony to dry. I wonder what will happen in the winter? What will frozen bras be like?
We had done it! This was our final destination! Sitting in the replica of an Ikea catalogue apartment, I was able to take a deep breath and sink into Mike’s arms. For the past week we had been so focused on getting here and sorting out the details of the apartment. Now, we were living in a new fantastic city. That little bit of excitement I had been feeling began to surge. There was so much to do and the weather was cooperating. Part of Mission Settle Bojana, was to get me familiar with the neighborhood and surrounding area. I started to check out local cafes and restaurants, and other interesting sounding spots. This was my first foray into getting to know the place I would call home for the next ten months. I was, in no small way, crowd surfing. After Mike was gone and I wouldn’t know anyone, I had to trust I could throw myself to the Brno crowd and that they’d catch me. I’d probably get knocked around but as long as I didn’t end up flung like a sack of potatoes onto a grocery store, I’d be fine.
Ahh, this important historic building! Which one is it? I’m not sure but will get back to you by the end of this blog! Image Description: It is a mostly white building which appears to have been built in the early to late 19th century. It does not look like a business type of building but instead one for inhabiting. Tje top left corner of eh building has a type of bulbous, as opposed to the thin skinny Gothic style seen in most places. it seems to be made of brass or painted to look like it.