Sometimes I don’t want anything else except to move back home.
“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” —Vincent Van Gogh
a fresh kind of threshold
The last time I attempted to nurture this space was more than a year ago.
I was living three-thousand miles away in a city founded in the seventh century with cobblestone pavements backed up by the largest castle in the world (that actually isn’t a castle at all). More relevantly to that period of my life, I lived in a neighbourhood with the highest density of bars per square kilometre in Europe.
Unlimited public transport cost me 50 Eurocents a day and it took me 17 minutes to reach work in the morning rush hour. A glass of wine would set me back less than €2 and I could buy books by the kilo for dirt cheap. A true Bohemian lifestyle for someone in their mid-twenties. What I couldn’t find in Prague, I’d search for and get enough of in London, Rome, Venice, Barcelona, and a dozen other cities I’d visit almost as frequently as Bukowski’s just down from my flat. Loved the bar, hated the writer. The year was 2019.
Since then, I’ve traded the beautiful but landlocked forests of Central Europe for miles and miles of desert and sandy beaches, year-round sunshine, and an infinite supply of falafels. Ahoj! was replaced by Yalla! and Staroměstské náměstí by Burj Khalifa. Dubai became my base but more than that, my home. Home, as a concept, is something I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about. It’s what this space used to be about and what the legacy of enjoy the wait is.
Speaking of legacies, from 1919 every Czech village, town, and city was required by law to have a public library. At the turn of the century, there was a library for every 1971 Czech citizen. Having grown up in a country with such a strong reading culture, coupled with the fact our home was always lined with books, ensured that I learned to love reading from a young age. Mom used to tell me that books are my dear friends and that I should be kind to them. To treat them well. I don’t remember not enjoying reading and there is always an unfinished book near me. Perhaps, even one in my mind but that’s for another time.
There are nowhere near as many libraries and bookstores in Dubai as there are in Prague, that’s for sure. Nonetheless, since I moved to Dubai, I’ve had some of the best reading streaks and discovered more titles and authors than I ever have. I read more books on my beloved Tolino reader and to my surprise, I also learned to love second-hand books.
Moving countries and continents again, finding and rediscovering my passions as a reader, and wanting to write again have all slowly led me back to this space which has been in existence in one form or another since 2007. A part of me has never left but the words got lost somewhere on their way. So did I. I often think of a quote I had pasted in my journal as a teenager: if I could find my way to the first word I’d written, I could find my way home. It is with this in mind that I decided to return to this space, which is kind of a home of its own.
Once a week, I find myself on a tennis court. Different from my childhood court in every possible way. On a rooftop of a building in the middle of a desert. There is a view and yesterday, the moon was right above me. Every time I play better than the week before. Every week the days in between get longer. The sound of the ball reminds me of who I was before. Who I was then. She asked me earlier today to sit with it. To sit with everything I’ve gone through because I have gone through so much. For a while, hers was the only voice I’d hear but my own is slowly starting to sound less like a whisper.
Tough weekend. But it didn’t have to be that way. Change is hard. It’s getting easier and easier but change is hard. Not being hard on myself even harder. Somehow I let my guard down. I keep focusing on the wrong things; things that don’t help me. Things that don’t make me happy. I concern myself with the actions of others instead of working on myself. So I am back to doing what I do best. I am writing lists; lists and lists and lists. Of books to read, films to watch, parks to walk around, beaches to spend evenings at and cafes to visit. 55 days left in this year and I want to be able to say that it was a good one.
Early November. Winter in the desert feels like summers of the past; the breeze smells sweet. Half a moon, he sent me a photograph of it. The message made me swoon. A part of me can’t imagine leaving the daily twitterings behind but there were many other things I couldn’t imagine leaving behind and yet I did. A beginning of a new journey; three months to start with. Then I’ll see. But it feels like the right path. I know it is. I spent a day in Rome last month and I want to write about that.
A proverbial return to simpler times. Every generation seems to think that things used to be simple back then and I am realising that I have most likely become one of them. The hope is to replace the two-forty characters I’d been so loyal to for nearly thirteen years and return to long-form. Or something in between. November, would you slow down, please? I wrote these words back in 2007 and I’ve been repeating myself ever since. But it does feel nice to be back here.