the wedding (part one: the lifeboat)

January 2016

Ústí nad Labem – Hněvice train

Another day without sunrise. I look through the windows of the train towards the bare fields torn here and there by little forests and quiet villages. Without snow the winter here is grey and foggy. I think about the big chimneys of the paper factory where I teach English and I wish I didn’t have to get off the train. I wish I could let it take me to Prague and then somewhere else. Somewhere where there is sun.

However, there’s some hope after all. The hope that’s contained in the unknown. I know there are only a few more weeks of traveling by train from Ústí to Hněvice, from Hněvice to Ústí. I know there are just two more months of winter. There’s no hope here. It’s there – in the weeks that will follow the quitting of my work; in the day when I’ll have seen a blossoming tree for the first time. In another country. Inside, the clockwork of the routine begins to slow down its movement. The gearwheels begin to act strangely. They are adjusting themselves to something new.

I would like to let the unknown lead me on its own just like I’ve let this train do it. To be a passenger of fate but without a ticket. To get off where the train leaves me. To let the train operator take care of the route so that I could lean back, simply looking through the windows of life.

But that’s not me. Damn it, the unknown is a bottomless ocean and I can’t swim. I always need something to clutch at. Be it a straw. Give me something – a land, an island, a raft – and I will swim to it. Give me nothing – and I’ll drown.

I don’t remember if suddenly the sun broke through the morning blanket of clouds but I feel illuminated by an idea. A raw, completely unshaped idea and because of that – incredibly powerful. I try to formulate it. It looks like this:

“Let’s get married. At Kara Dere.”

I smile. Sunshine wind from the east suddenly storms into an empty corner of my mind; I smell salt and see that little piece of paradise that, along with many other people, I often call “mine” – Kara Dere. Wild, just like any newborn idea, the thought takes over me completely. I no longer need the train to take me to Prague and then somewhere else. I already carry the sun within.

I walk across the bridge over Labe. I see the huge chimneys in front of me. I look at the white smoke on the grey sky. And my soul is singing under the sun. It is taking steps on the hot sand.

Unwilling, I stray from my thoughts. The working day begins quietly in the gloomy overheated carpeted rooms. But everything is lighter already. I have a lifeboat.

And now, whenever I have time – on the way to the Hněvice station, on the way home from the Ústí station, on my way to the shop, while I lie in my bed – I can summon it.

So that I could swim in the unknown.

The only thing that worries me is that the boat has space for two.

But the other person doesn’t know about it yet.

 

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