Europe: My head is spinning, my heart aches…
I remember Ariel with frangipanis behind his ear. I called him Little Mermaid and he called me sunshine. The words I said most to him were ‘Merci Beaucoup’, because he always gave me something to thank him for. I hated to see him unhappy or in pain. He bounced into my life and changed it irrevocably, as I’m sure he did anyone he let in. Ariel said that living with me was like being 14 again and having a midget control his life. He reminded me of my mum too. She said to me, god sometimes takes the special ones. Ariel once argued with me, saying that random bad things happen that we don’t ask for or choose. I never would have asked for Ariel to hurt. But even in his death, there seems a divine order. I hope he is resolving his differences with god. When we last spoke about it, he was telling me god is just a fantasy used to make ourselves feel better. But to know Ariel, was to know the light. Sharing with him was like sharing with all the beauty in the world crammed into one person. More than anything, I will miss sharing with him. I will miss playing with him. He knew how to play! The day Ariel passed away was the first day I noticed the constant aeroplanes crisscrossing the blue skies in Europe. The trail they leave is fleeting, and kept only in our memories. And so together we will hold him in our hearts. It is spring here, there are blue skies and babies and warmth and sunshine. In his eternal sunshine I cry, until it is time for me to live, in his eternal sunshine.
Ellen. ‘It’s normal’. She fetches falafel. I move my bed to the balcony and sit with bear and diary.
Last weekend we went to the Slovak mountains. I drank alcohol all day with sash, Kim and le france Nikko on the back seat of the bus. They kept me laughing by getting caught smoking in the toilets. Slovak mountains was the last trip organised by the university and the guides made sure we wouldn’t forget them by waking us up every 15 minutes, talking loudly and needlessly in the microphone. Day one, Heather and I find ourselves locked in a castle. My life flashed before my eyes.
We hiked up a mountain, and down a mountain, with me stopping and sitting in the middle of the road to cry, without explanation. At the top, nestled between snow-capped hills we spun around on children’s play equipment. There were cats there, a pregnant ginger white and black kitten that I fed Mark’s salami (thanks Mark!). Had fun kicking a footy around. We stayed in cottages in the hills, Demanovska Dolina Valley. The stars were unbelievably bright, in a way I haven’t seen since I have been in Europe. Drank some hot wine and bounced on a trampoline with Hilary, necks craned back looking up at the stars. The next day, we walked down into a cave and up out of a cave. At one point we also took a ‘romantic’ raft down the river Vah through the Strecno valley. The guides were funny, and I fell asleep. Bus home, sang Yael Naim on repeat with Nikko ‘a new soul, in this strange world… learn a bit bout how to give and take. Finding myself making every possible mistake.’
On Monday I received a letter I wrote to myself in Wollongong on October 28th. It says- Life is now. Open up, breathe and enjoy every second. To call my mother, because she is probably sleepless (I did). On Tuesday I woke at 8.15 and went jogging with Enrique. (Stranger things have happened, right?) He gets frustrated with me stopping to cry, every time I run and the grief comes up. Beautifully, he draws a picture of leaves, tells me to imagine letting go, and I throw them in the air. Wednesday Bridget read my memorial to Ariel in Australia. Thursday, drank wine and ate olives under a tree. Thursday night, got hopelessly drunk on a tram and did some puking.
Woke early Friday and packed my bags. Ellen mentioned she wants to see the CZ, hitching, and I’m keen as mustard. At 3pm, once I’ve sobered up enough, me and Ellen catch the tram to the highway. We were aiming for Cesky Krumlov in the south of the Czech Republic, followed by Karlovy Vary in the West. CHANGE TENSE.
The first car takes us to the service station up the hill. The next car was headed to Kutna Hora and he recommends it as a place worth visiting. We have Bean Goulash on a patio as the sun set and the temperature drops. Stood for a while overlooking a peaceful little valley with a forest behind it. Went into a pub where everyone was wearing green hats and ties. Met some people who said they knew people who owned a hostel, Harley’s bar? That we could stay there for 8 euro. About a kilometre away, they said. We started walking. Got to another pub. Went in and asked for directions. Harleys bar?? That’s another town across, they said. The gentleman grabs his keys. After some awkward minutes in the car he asks Ellen if she speaks German, she does! The car drives and tiny town signs wizz pass. Entering Hizov, exiting Hizov. Entering Libernice, exiting Libernice… Toto, I don’t think we are in Kansas anymore! We arrive at a slightly bigger town. Drive around, back and forth, asking about Harleys Bar. Ellen and I begin to laugh hysterically. Finally find it, with a wave, he leaves. We go in and ask for Pavel Gabrielle. Absolutely is no one there by that name, and it is a pub, not a hostel. We shrug our shoulders, lie down and wait for a miracle to happen. We wake to a Czech waitress talking angrily at us. We leave.
Kolin, the train station sign says. Prepared to find ourselves in this situation, Ellen unrolls her sleeping bag and I…. unpack my bright yellow Vinarska dorm blanket. We sleep for a short while until the train to Prague arrives. The conductor is very animated and amusing at 430am and only charges us 25 crown each. We arrive at Prague train station. I wrap myself in the bright yellow blanket and go back to sleep. Get woken up by a police officer who tells me, You can’t sleep here. Told you so, says Ellen. We get the tram down the river to see the sights as the sun rises.
We guess it is 2.30, it is only 12pm. At Vinarska, we may still be sleeping.
We hitch again, getting picked up by a woman who looks our age but apparently has a daughter our age. She drops us at a car park in Cesky Krumlov. We walk down the hill to a bridge over a stream. We look around, and it is fucking beautiful. We stumble across Hostel 99, for 250 a night, even though we vowed not to spend that much money, it is fucking beautiful. We walk in through a terrace with people sitting in the sun playing guitar with background accompaniment of a bubbling creek. The floors are wooden and there is a water view. We walk (me barefoot) up a cobble stone street. We climb the bell tower and sit in the sun looking at the UNESCO protected town. There are 2 bears imprisoned and we are not impressed. Ellen takes pictures of a small child with a gorgeous background. I buy postcards. We go back to the hostel, shower (Ellen under cold water) and sleep for two hours. We wake, and eat vegetarian cuisine by the water. Sweet and funny waiter gives us complementary chocolate dessert. We go for a long walk around the town to find a pharmacy- there is probably nothing to worry about, but I want a morning after pill. Shudder. The town is silent and still, at one point we walk past a hospital/prison surrounded by electric fences that gives me the heebie geebies. We get back to the hostel and Ellen goes to bed.
I sit up talking to a writer called Bradley, from New York. We look up at a distorted painting of a man and woman and talk about the Czech collective subconscious. Sitting in front of a huge wall map, we point to places we’ve been, places we will go to. He tells me not to go to Ukraine, cos there is no food, no beds there. As he talks about the world, I ask him, Why? Why? Why?
Sunday, the monastery tea garden is closed and we hitch home. No Karlovy Vary this time. Once again, I am woken to the sound of Ellen and the Czech van driver laughing at my head rolling around with open mouth as I sleep sitting up.
Today, I receive news. 1. After spending hours on the phone to MasterCard in Tromso, and everyone calling this past week, my Optus phone bill is $1535.55. 2. Centrelink have not given me youth allowance this week, and as a result 3. My scholarship has been suspended. I need to send my passport home to Australia to have my Visa stuck in it, don’t know how that is going to happen.
It is the best of times; it is the worst of times. I am learning how important it is to share with those around you, because one day they will not be there for you to share with, and all you will want is to share. The world was piercingly beautiful through my tears and I felt blessed. I am learning not to apologise. Grief showed me that you have to do and be as you need. I read somewhere, don’t apologise, your friends don’t need it and your enemies will use it against you. The words ‘I’m sorry’ are all you have to give someone when they are faced with loss. And that’s the only thing that makes any sense.
Thank you everyone for your love. Thanks for hair holding, kebab fetching, tissue giving, aeroplane counting, trampoline jumping, mutual crying, memorial reading, breakfast cooking, long hugging, angry jogging, bus drinking, happy substance sharing, song singing, chocolate giving, forgiving pasta sauce eating… I could write a million more words on the topic of thanks, but for the moment, that is all. Love you!!!!!