It is odd to be living a life where you have to remind yourself not to feel guilty about sleeping, or sitting at your desk to do homework, or making yourself dinner. There is a lot of pressure – mostly from myself – to do this thing called ‘making every day count.’ But that is a very different game when you’re here for four months, and some days going down a street I haven’t noticed before and finding the third largest Synagogue in Europe has to be enough to make it count. Or finding a running trail (and then nearly throwing up half a lung on said running trail) filled with leash-less dogs and children strapped onto rollerskates. Some days being able to live a normal life in a place so beyond normal is enough.
I put in headphones and start my journey home from school. I take the long way and walk past the drugstore where the cashier thought I was asking for condoms when I merely wanted to know if they took credit cards (whenever I start to think I’m getting a hold of the Czech language life reminds me that I could not be farther from it), past the thrift stores and vegetarian buffet and trdlnik stand that gave us two for one on our first day of school. I squeeze through the crowds around the trams. Women run to catch their ride home, their heels skate across damp cobblestones in the street. A kid wearing three jackets and green rubber shoes pushes his way through the crowd, a cardboard class project held high above his head. I duck underground and ride the escalator deep below the street. There are couples on the escalator that turn around on the steps so that they can kiss as they descend. Willing to risk death for one more intimate moment in public.
I come back above ground just in time to catch the bus and stand unsteady, both hands gripping the edges of the doorway as we go. I let myself smile at the comfort of this ride, the ease of knowing the jumps in the road, the contours of the turns before they come. I get off at the second stop, right in front of the erotic video store, set far back in the alley and letting out a slow stream of customers that immediately slip into the rhythm of passersby. The construction workers let our their usual intelligible babble as I pass, and I unlock the door to the building quick with the paranoia of being followed in.
My roommates and I curl around the kitchen table, eating knock-off Nutella and jam and doing shots of gin.
This is a marathon, not a sprint. You’re the one who counts your days. Stop making excuses for the things that make you happy.