Sad, but not tragic. A forced opportunity. Maybe even a fortunate adaptation…fuck it. Let's make taco salad.

Lumpy Pillows

Prague has long been on the list, not for any clear reason, but more because the rest of you people just can’t stop talking about the goddamn place.  So I took the train from Ljubljana, north through Austria, to the Czech Republic.

This was also a chance to reunite with my friends Lukas and Katerina, who were central characters in an unfortunate incident at 4750 meters more than a year ago. []

Prague was…nice.  There are lots of pretty things to see.  If you enjoy taking pictures of Asians taking ridiculous pictures, this is a good place to be.  But I didn’t fall in love (except for about 10 minutes on the train ride back to Slovenia, but that is a story for another day).  Much like Venice, it’s interesting for a day or two, but beyond that it rapidly descends into a bit of a touristic hell.

While I’m being rudely critical of other people’s culture, I might as well throw in that Czechs seem to have an affinity for garishly colored apartment buildings and lumpy pillows.  I understand the need to sex up the Soviet-era neo-utilitarian architecture, but I think you should put down the orange and pink paint and consider some explosives instead.  As for the pillows, well, I just don’t know what to say.  Yes I do:  “Who the fuck wants to sleep on a goddamn lumpy pillow?”

We took a drive out to Southern Bohemia to a cute little town called Český Krumlov and reminisced about olden times.  (“Remember when we were stranded at 4750 meters because you were completely incapacitated from altitude sickness and we all thought we were going to die on that mountain?  That was totally awesome.”)

It was also harvest time in the countryside, which meant really cute old ladies sitting by the side of the road selling 2 liter bottles of an interesting looking substance called burčák, which turned out to be a homebrewed “young” wine, dangerously delicious and oh-so-lightly carbonated.  Yum.  (I was told to be careful with it, so I promptly consumed the entire bottle with no ill effects…which means I must be completely fucking ill.)

One morning, while self-palpitating my neck to determine if I need to sue the housekeeping department before we leave town, Katerina (as most girls love to do, for some reason) grilled me over the ex-wife and why things went so wrong.  I don’t mind having the conversation, but something she said got stuck in my head:  “You need to get over her.”

Now, we’ve all heard this phrase many times before, but what exactly does it mean?  It implies that there is something I can actively choose to do to put that past behind me.  I’m not sure what more I could do, short of selling everything I own and moving halfway across the planet. (Oh wait, I did do that.)

Am I allowed to remember her fondly or do the rules require me to harden my heart, to find reasons to hate?  When the back of a head, a shoe, a simple mannerism reminds me of her, can I smile?  Does my continued fondness for her – or is it just the memory of her – keep me from other opportunities?  I don’t think so.  Is my absolute willingness to discuss the dirty details of my past a turn off?  I don’t know.  Have I proposed to anyone else?  Hell yes.  At least one a month has been offered the title of “My Future Third Ex-Wife.”

If she asked me to come back, would I do it?  Hell no.  “You’re too late.”  (God, that felt good to write.)  If she wanted to be with me, would I be open to it?  It’s possible.  Do I think there’s any chance of that?  Absolutely none.  Does that mean I’m holding on to something I should be “letting go?”

But it is this loss that drives me, that makes me physically stronger, that compels me to put pen to paper constantly (which is sometimes quite maddening to my travel companions).  It is not some uncontrollable wanderlust or grandiose sense of adventure that sent me on this journey.  It is my pain. And I use it, I do not cling to it – like Red America clinging to their guns and religion.  (Despite all of your horrible failings, President Obama, I will always love you for saying that.)

Every day, at some point, she finds me.  Whether it’s in my dreams or in those first waking moments, I see her.  That and this goddamn lumpy pillow.  Now, I can throw the pillow out the window (I did, in fact, throw the fucking pillow out the window), but I can no more re-chart my subconscious thoughts than I can make the Czechs understand the absurdity of these sleeping arrangements.

Yet, as I write these words, I’m sitting in my rental car 10 feet from the Adriatic Sea on an island in Croatia.  Regrets?  I think no.  Whatever this is, I think I can live with it.

4 Responses to “Lumpy Pillows”

  1. Jin says:

    I think you should sue the housekeeping department.

  2. JimK says:

    The paintings on the tower of Chesky Krumlov always seems so cartoony to me. They were freshly painted when I was there (1990 something or other), and almost surreal in how the bright colors popped off of it.

  3. Like how tiny the Saint looks next to your Almighty finger.

    Memory, the search for comfort, understanding, are all human things. Trusting in the brain’s plasticity is often the thing to do. Not a smooth ride, necessarily, but the echoes will fade.

    Sometimes a pillow does need to get tossed, a smartphone drowned. It shows the bad juju out there we’re not to be fucked with, and it DOES tend to back off after such a display of power. It might look like a tantrum, but we’re battling on a different plane with heightened perceptions from most – like being a Dream Warrior or Neo in The Matrix.

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