One common theme to any kind of personal writing I’ve put out there is about my arrival in Prague – one of the most discordant moments of my life – about how I was alone. And about how I had what I kindly call ‘blind courage’ or what I should probably just admit was gross naiveté and an over-inflated ego.
But I definitely credit my success, my staying power in Prague, to that initial attitude. I made it out the other side of challenges before realizing the consequences of failure. And that attitude was the first travel buddy I met as I started my solo journey.
When I went to that creepy little college in Missouri I went along with a girl I had done ballet and gone to high school with. When I transferred back to my state university I joined about half my graduating class from high school and always lived with people I had known back home. The psych classes I took, because my boyfriend was a psych major, would say this is why I finally flung myself into the middle of another continent.
My sister tells a poignant story of when my family dropped me off at the airport for my flight over to Prague, one involving a 12-hour layover in Newark and another six hours in Warsaw. After I had gone through security, up the escalator out of sight, my parents stood still, watching, and according to my sister, waiting. She had to tell them that I was unlikely to come back down the escalator and go back home with them.
Meanwhile I was almost in a zombie-like state, going through the motions of finding my gate, settling down in a seat, compulsively checking for my boarding pass. I did call my best friend and cry for a minute, but after that I got back into my mantra that it was time to pull myself together and face my new reality.
It was a pep talk I gave myself often throughout the nearly 40 hours it took me to reach my final destination: a terrifyingly communist block house on the outskirts of what was supposed to be a fairytale city.
And while back in the States I had been a shy, quite little person I found that this new need to forge my own relationships, rather than falling back on family and classmates, brought out the extroverted side in me.
Another topic I’ve written about, and one I certainly think about, is how all the friends I’ve made have literally come and gone. I’m not being hyperbolic here. Mid-way through July my last two real friends left. And a month before that even my husband moved away!
After their time in Prague my friends have gone on to places like Texas, Seattle, Ukraine, Taiwan, Australia, New York…
Prague is a temporary city for almost anyone not born Czech, and they had fulfilled the need that drove them here to begin with. So they moved on in their lives to learn and grow even more, and delightfully most of them kept a bit of the cheeky, fun spirit of an afternoon spent drinking good beer in a sunny park.
Having always been a wide-eyed observer of life, this progression has been wonderful to watch. But now it is my time to leave.
And I will leave Prague just as I came. Alone.
I recently got a new tattoo and I will be perfectly honest with you. It is a Buffy the Vampire Slayer Tattoo. Why Buffy? Why now? So many answers to both those questions, and some many are the same answers.
I’ll give you one for now. During an early season finale Buffy is fighting to save the world, as is her calling, and the demon she’s fighting asks “Now that’s everything, huh? No weapons… No friends…No hope. Take all that away… and what’s left?”
Me. I’m left.
And I’m enough to not only get though this tough time of transition, but I’m enough to keep slaying my life!