Last night I had yet another of my surreal “Where the hell am I and what is this ridiculous life I’m leading?” moments.
Some days I just don’t know how I ended up here. I don’t know how I ended up seeing the things I’ve seen, and meeting the people I’ve met. I half expect to wake up and be back in my old bedroom in my parents’ house with Frodo curled in my knee-crook and wondering where my subconscious comes up with this stuff. Frodo would ‘merr,’ stretch, and knock things over in a bid for breakfast. I would hear Kaylee sniffing outside the door and whining to be let in.
|The calm before the breakfast storm. Photo courtesy my sis.|
This was my life before. But that was 4,000 miles and damn near three years ago.
What does my life look like now? Well, some things are standard. I go to work, I ride public transportation, I sit on the steps of the Lorenzkirche and watch street performers sing and dance in Spanish for 30 minutes non-stop. Pretty normal.
And then there are nights like last night.
I started by sitting in a cafe with a friend from Poland. We trade stories of New Year’s Eves (or Silvesters), talk about holiday plans, and laugh. We switch to German and she patiently corrects my attempts at German until 10pm. Text message sounds have been ‘dinging’ from my pocket inviting me for a late drink. Meeting a guy with an accent who tells stories about falling into bogs. Wandering around a city that’s almost a thousand years old so late that the lights on the landmarks go off. Carrying a few more beers up the hill to the castle and sitting on a bench looking out over a city of 500,000 people that’s almost silent. Church steeples rise above steeply pitched roofs and the whole of the Altstadt is spread out below us. A trio of voices rise from the base of the castle wall, a last few kids are out late on a school night too. But soon their voices move and fade away. The lanterns on the street and the occasional lit window are the only things distracting from the stars above. At least until the clouds rolled in. You could never see stars in Prague. I like that about here.
The only distractions are a plastic bag floating across the cobblestones like a medieval version of the shot in ‘American Beauty.’ Then a lone man comes up, and leans against the wall and lights a cigarette. He stares across the city and smoke rises from his hand. It’s like we aren’t even there, and I wonder if he comes there every night. The church bells chime and it’s 3:30am. I had to wake up at 6am that day for the first time in weeks, and I’m barely tired. It’s like the night air gives you a second wind. I do wonder why I can’t manage to do something like this on a non-school night. But I don’t have class until 12:30 the next day. So what’s staying out all night? The view, the quiet, Orion’s belt, the feel of the night air, a soft cologne-scented jacket around me, and the sweet taste of cider makes being a little tired the next day totally worth it.