Monday, October 5, 2009

The word I'm looking for is palimpsest.

Sometimes it hits me that I live smack dab in the center of Europe.
That this is not some Czech-speaking version of America and I am in fact an ocean away from everything I knew before August 8th.

It's the cobblestones that give it away, really.

I was walking home tonight and saw cobblestones peeking out under the blacktop of the sidewalk in Vršovice where I live. I remembered when someone told me that New York City still has all its cobblestones under that asphalt. I wonder what New York City would feel like without its black coating. Cobblestones against massive skyscrapers seems an odd union to me. It blows my mind to think of peeling the tar off, like the skin of an orange. Picking it away in one big spiral and finding all these stones, reminding us of a time when New York City looked less like New York City.

I still don't like New York City. I leave feeling overwhelmed every time.

I always have this image in my head of my feet touching the ground, the ground being connected to everything. It's hard for me to put my finger on the mostly intangible concept of a country. I feel like I understand most of everything that's going on, I just don't understand when people speak to me. How can I be somewhere else? I'm still living, breathing, sleeping, eating. One thing I've learned is how much can be gathered from body language and context. The eyes.

I think coming here when I did, after graduation, has solidified my perpetual state of motion. Where is home? Home is no longer home. I've been gone, in and out, of the house I grew up in for what feels like so long now that it's not really where I belong anymore. To be fair, I'm not sure I ever belonged there. I can still walk from the kitchen to my bedroom in complete darkness without falling over, waking anyone up. I remember that wave of nostalgia that hit me when I was 19 and afraid of growing up, moving out. Not just for the year this time. A lease with my name on it (or as it turns out, just a room). Time has made it so I'm not even nostalgic anymore. About that, anyway.

I think I spend most of my days just looking at everything. I sit in the coffee shop and look at the Czech newspaper (because I can't read it). Somehow all the nonesense, sprinkled with words I recognize here and there, is still interesting. I learn a new word everyday.

Generally I feel like I'm on one of those pirate ships you ride at the amusement park, the type that goes only in two directions: rock to the left and rock to the right. Act excited. Who would pay to be seasick? I'm never sure which direction I'm headed, whether today will be one of those pessimistic ones or the type I'll spend looking up at the detailed architecture of each building I walk by. Can you imagine a time when people were patient enough to carve angels between windows?

Mostly I'm okay with this. It depends on the day.


  1. I loved reading this post. Like, "I want you to submit this for me to print in my zine" loved.