I imagine my life as a bookshelf. An endless one (not because it’s eternal but because it can be “suddenly ended”). There are four books on it.
The first is about my birth and childhood. In one of the chapters I poke my younger sister’s eye because I think she’s a doll. In another one I play with a kitten, dropping it between the radiator ribs as if down a slide. I wish there are not many such chapters. The same book tells about my adventures in the hills, about the day we write a short story about wolves and try to sell it to the neighbour, about the traveling gypsies – the tinsmiths – who set up their enormous tents by the stadium, about the rainy days when our broken street turns into a river and we splosh down it happily, about the day I steal money from Dad’s leather bag to buy myself some sweets and then, after he finds out, spend the entire evening with my head pinned to the sofa, about the puppies we bring home and then have to throw back out and about many other things.
The second part of this book is about my weird teenage years when I find many true to this day friends and yet, I get quite lost in myself. There are a few really amusing chapters about me going to school with a fake ring on my lip, arm tattoos drawn with color pens and a head full of Linkin Park’s songs. In a very interesting turn of events I make friends with a girl from my class who has previously tried to set my hair on fire. Volume I has an open ending: I am standing on the threshold of my “real” life and I feel it will never start until I run away from home.
Volume II begins with me and my sister just arrived in Sofia by train to remain and study there. The first chapters are particularly creepy: the room at the “Satanist”‘s with bars outside the windows, cigarette smoke floating like a cloud around the whole dark flat and brown cockroaches. Later on things get better. I change a lot of flats and dorm rooms, meet a lot of people, my head gets full of dreams and titles of good books, I go to the cinema, the theatre, to exhibitions and mountains. My friends become even better. I begin to travel abroad. I spend five months in London. I am inspired. I’m rather happy.
In the second and really important part of Volume II I discover love and this changes my life forever. It changes it so fast that towards the end of the book I have already experienced two types of (unrequited) love. Volume II also has an open ending: I am standing in my room in Studentski grad [a campus-like district in Sofia], already an almost-Master of Photography, I am looking at the National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts dorm block which is opposite mine and then at the clouds behind it and I suddenly realize that there is something hiding there – something bigger and more significant than the pain in my heart. I decide that love isn’t for me and I fill with the true happiness of just being me, the way I am, alone, independent, and with a simple but beautiful plan: to travel the world!
The story of my life, however, decides to develops itself in another direction and here I am – in the beginning of Volume III – just discarded love and yet, enamoured again, only this time the another person is enamoured of me as well. The National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts blocks disappear from my window view along with the sky behind them and I, crossing out my plans cross myself somewhere in the process. In the first chapters, though, this is not important: I am truly happy to have found myself a harbour and the World Ocean barely moves me right now. I readily leave everything that I know and move to the Czech Republic to live with my lover. Nothing is as easy as it used to be before and although love is still my strongest support I am beginning to feel the eternal presence of something that’s missing. Volume III has a lot of pages stained with tears. The whole book weighs more on the shelf although it’s thinner than the first two in terms of chapters. In one of the last chapters I lose my father and this will change my life forever.
And here’s where Volume III will end.
As I am writing this, the last pages of the third book are writing themselves, too. The new completely empty book is already on the shelf waiting to be opened. Volume IV.
The good thing about unopened books is that they can’t disappoint you. You still don’t know what they’re about. It can be anything. Absolutely anything.
I feel fear at the sight of the unopened books of my life because I already know that some life events don’t depend on me. Something happens 1750 kilometers away from here and yet has the power to put an end to a book and set the beginning of a new one. But you know what: writers don’t like it when their characters are afraid of them. On the contrary. I have created characters myself and loved it the most when they made their steps alone without me pushing them and when they developed in front of my eyes. I guess the author of my next book would also like such a character. And maybe if I give him the pleasure to not be afraid but, rather, to join his game and even surprise him (or her?), he’ll start liking me more than he did in Volume III and he’ll come up with nicer events to put on my life track. I can’t know.
However, the inexhaustable faith I carry inside whispers at me to accept what’s in store for me as good and right. To remember that, actually, some of the most exciting things in life begin as fear of the unknown.
That’s why I decide to accept the new stage of my life as a book which is going to write itself in front of my eyes. This decision allows me to distance myself from my life a bit, to look at it from above, as if through the eyes of the author, and to see that, in fact, everything happens for a reason (I believe my author is good and good authors never add events or people for no reason) and that ordinary life is no different from a good work of fiction as long as you can accept it as such. I would like to accept my life as a good work of fiction.
And in order for my life to be such, I am going to share it with you – something I used to think made no sense a few months ago. There really was a time when I thought the people who read this blog would go on reading it only if the things in it were universal, common, for the common good. Recently, however, a reader thanked me for one of the last things I had written – something entirely personal. And this is when I realized it! What is the difference between a life and a book anyway? If we read about the lives of fictional characters with such pleasure, then why shouldn’t be interested in the lives of real people? Every single life – be it real or not (although the idea that “real life” exists is also questionable) – that we touch upon allows us to put ourselves in somebody else’s place. To experience thousands of things which might never happen to us.
But why? To what end, someone might ask. What end, c’mon! It’s just a game. Game is the only thing which is really good for you without claiming to be such. When we were young, we used to cover ourselves with bedsheets and become ghosts, we put coffee cups filled with water on the table and pretended to be “mothers of kids”. When I was six or seven I had my hair cut shorter and while watching my shadow on the street I imagined I was Jessica – RJ’s daughter from Thunder in Paradise. While I was running down the pavement, a sharp plastic piece in my hand, I was Princess Knight. That’s what kids do. Adults read books.
So, if so far you have liked the more personal things I’ve written, you might be interested to find out what Volume IV will be about. Perhaps you’ll think it will be boring but maybe you would like to know what will happen next. I don’t have your choice.
Antonia’s Life, Volume IV
Antonia is a young woman constantly on the search of her place in the world and never finding it. The only thing she’s sure about is the love for the person next to her beyond which everything else is unstable. At some point things look as if they’ll fit into place – she finds a good job in the Czech Republic, long anticipated friends begin to show up in her life, she’s going to Ecuador. The sudden death of her father, however, turns her life upside down. She has to go back to Bulgaria to take care of her home and her ill mother. Antonia instantly decides that her dreams and freedom are over and that from now on she’ll start living as an ordinary person led by the nose by the circumstances of life. Her lover has to abandon everything he’s been building and move to a country which, in his words, is “100 years back in time”. Will the roots Antonia’s going back to turn out to be a barbed wire prison or, the opposite, a source of power? Will the world of her childhood become a home for her future or will it be defaced by the present? Will she manage to help her mother rise againts her demons and fears and maybe start a new life? And, most importantly, will the love between Antonia and her lover prove to be strong enough to withstand all difficulties?
Stay with me to find out.
I stay with myself.
P.S. There will be more pictures in Volume IV.