It’s been a while since I’ve been meaning to write this text. But as the cauldron of emotional whiplashes I’ve personified in these past weeks, I simply couldn’t. I postponed.
The thing is, postponing had become a huge part of my life in the past year and a half. I postponed exercising until I couldn’t recognize my own shapes; I postponed talking to my therapist about one of my major dilemmas; I postponed that difficult conversation (and boy, did I); I postponed saying what I really felt and wanted; I postponed my physical need to move on.
I’m currently on a train from Belgrade to Bar, in the coast of Montenegro, it’s an 11-hour journey so I guess I’m allowed to divert myself from the spectacular landscape and from the Serbian travellers, with whom I’m sharing the train booth, to spend some time in front of this “dull” screen, as someone well pointed out.
When I left Belgrade this morning something big struck me, right there, in the middle of my chest, in that part where eating and breathing become one. And it hurt like hell, damn it still does. Walking to the station was a torture and this train journey has been one of the most difficult I’ve ever gone in my “sheltered life” – my “life” here characterized by that same someone. I entered this train feeling suffocated, and because of so much deferment, I’d had enough. As I’m travelling alone I get asked all-the-time: “why alone? Why?? What’s the purpose?”
Yesterday and the day before I unloaded, heavily, and it was pretty ugly, but also incredibly beautiful and rich. It was confusing and it took me a 10K cycling by the Sava to get rid of some of the heavy baggage I brought with me from my now “old life” in London. I had that heavy energy with me and maybe even my body might have been heavier these past few days. I craved cigarettes; I craved things I never craved before. The sweet and sour scent of a poignant sweat and smoky hands suddenly began to taste too good. The Serbs smoke like there’s no tomorrow and cigarettes are cheaper than chocolate.
I might have hurt someone in my path to self-discovery, and if I did I am deeply and honestly and full-heartedly sorry. I too am hurt, because I did it without noticing and without intent. Because sometimes our best weapon is our weakest and, it backfires. Sometimes the most awkward situation becomes the most delightful of moments, sometimes pleasure has no name, it comes without warning, and desire can be self-consuming. Desire for the new, for the old-new, for that damn cigarette, for whom I’ve always been and always wanted: myself
A desire that becomes lustful, and might inadvertently result in intense masturbation; a desire that sees no boundaries when expressing itself to the world. This desire, beware, it puts you in the strangest of places: I looked like a fool, like a 16-year old version of myself, so naïve. I had no make-up on, but wore mascara for three days – craving darkened eyes… – my tongue had no limits, its anatomy doing what it does best: to explore. And this alien language that is Serbian, how deeply it touched the hesitant pulsing of my little “srce”. Because I am small, I am puny; I am a grain of sand compared to the vastness that is this ancient landscape outside the train window. And how tiny did I feel when wandering around the puzzling buildings that make Belgrade what it is: a never-ending brick-over-brick recollection of memories and futures. As I’ve put it so well, “we Serbs are too attached to the past”.
So, for those obsessively asking me “what’s the point of your journey?” I can only tell you: there is no point if it must have a point.
Journeys like these are not jobs, they’re not made of plans, and if they are they will not work out. Trust me, I relied on a plan and I’m now massively frustrated and sad. Indeed, you can say I’m very fortunate – in current Western jargon, I am privileged – after all not many of us can afford “getting lost” in Europe. You’re right, do point fingers at me, I won’t refute because you are right. But if you’re asking me this question in these exact terms, I invite you to reassess your idea of Europe and have a look at the places I mentioned in the beginning of this text. And, please, don’t you dare judge me for my choices, I never judged yours: I’m jobless and refused a job to be here, I still have thesis’ corrections to finish, I have an article I will not deliver because I cannot stand it any longer, it hurts me. I have a broken heart and a shattered soul scattered all over, and I have passions that make me impulsive and alive. I don’t have possessions any more, I gave them away as I left my life behind, and I already had so little, I already had given so much… I have no house, no commodities, but a bottle of perfume that was not cheap, but it’s all I have. I left a piece of me in Belgrade and I don’t know how to get it back
I got lost in there. I am lost in here. I sob as I write this text – my Serbian companions offer me tissues and share their meal with me. The train stops and they leave, waving me the sweetest goodbye.
Suddenly, I feel human again.