It’s August 2018 and it’s so damn hot here, furnace dry. No breeze and no sweating. Faces hold their makeup (un)disturbingly and no wrinkles appear, no need to sleep naked. A perennial discomfort of the body in cold winters and dry hot summers, it seems to me. One eerie list of poems lingering in the shadows of the buildings, waiting for green to mark the time passing…
Some time ago, when I used to go on holidays, I would walk around unknown neighbourhoods and fantasize how it would feel like to live there. What kind of life I would have had, how old I would have been, if I had pretty dresses and a good body; my daily routine, my friends, my lovers and of course my fears.
I used to daydream like this all the time. I always wanted to experience a different life. I needed to know how it feels to be somebody else – everyone else. I would allow the air to acknowledge my presence, my eyes to peek at the windows, I would guess on the smell of cooked food and walk around aimlessly; whatever felt right to get me into the role. You see, I wanted to live like this most of my life. I couldn’t just settle in one place; I was too curious about everywhere else.
Now I’m doing exactly this. I experience life in different places and play pretend. But living many different lives doesn’t make life any different. It’s a play pretend of real feelings: odd or good interactions, solitude, enchantment, love, restlessness, wanting to be in a different place or not wanting to be in a different place at all. This is my way of bonding with the world.
I am in Bratislava. I have been here for a week. It’s been an unusual week. It started with me crossing the highway where I shouldn’t have, jumping a non-lady-like fence and dragging my suitcase on a very steep flight of stairs, under a serious amount of Celsius degrees. My hood is past the upside down radio pyramid, a 20 minutes’ walk to the old town. My place is good but there’s nothing cosy between my studio and the cobble carless streets, any pedestrian’s dream. I can’t vibe with the town at all, everyone is so serious, rushing around and not smiling to strangers. The other bunch get drunk or follow the small flashing flags of dorky travel guides. It’s hard not to project myself outside my own body.
But I have never imposed on a town or country. If things come naturally, that is good. If things are hard, though shirt. The moment when my journey will revolve around me only, I might as well not travel anymore. If solitude and isolation is what I need to experience, that is fine. Not ideal but fine. I am supposed to observe, understand and move on.
It’s full of pretty girls here, very nicely dressed, very much crumbling inside and very stiff. I know the feeling. I was also educated way-out-East to act all serious and uninterested, to never smile to anyone because they – the men would take an invitation out of that, a most unwanted one. What a silly frigid education. I recognize it in every pretty girl walking these streets and I think how painful this moral corset is. They take life way too seriously, they spend their pocket money in cafeterias, on very long coffees, complaining about everything and not knowing what’s wrong or how to fix it. Their only bible is the cold norm. And dreams run around in their heads, only. I’m thinking if they could only let their fantasies become deeds. All the roads covered in red dresses, magic stories and waves of Slovakian wine… What a feast would that be.
There’s also a book shop every few meters. More books shops than clothes stores. That’s where the girls got their fair skin from and minds as sharp as the almost neighbouring Swiss clocks. Talking about books, if you want to know more about the post-communist years here, check out Rivers of Babylon by Peter Pišťanek. It kept me cool at nights.
Bratislava is also the home of the most phenomenal graffiti I’ve ever seen. But that’s maybe because I’m in a fox frenzy. I got fox earrings in Ljubljana and I’m getting a fox tattoo in Ukraine. As for my green light, it switches Saturday, with the promise of a new beginning.
Aug 21nd 2018