Travel Diary: Prague

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12th July 2017 –

Last night I got chatting with two Californian guys in my hostel room. As an introvert, I sometimes love to be around extroverts, because what feels like hard work to me comes naturally to them. We talked for ages, and it was nice to have the company. I found it somewhat ironic that the only time I’ve been in a friendly hostel is when I’m only there for one night.

My American pals told me that they’ve been to Prague, and that it’s wonderful there. They advised me to make sure I’m staying in the old town. I checked the location of my hostel: 1 hour and 30 minutes walk from the old town. It occurred to me that this also means it’s probably very far from the train station. I’m considering changing hostels. I’ll double check how much I paid for the deposit, and if it was fewer than £5, I’ll cancel and book somewhere else. Of course, my main priority today is to actually get to Prague.

I had originally planned to get a bus from Vilnius to Prague, but it would have been a 22-hour-long journey, hence why I stopped in Warsaw. By now, I’m sick to death of buses. And whilst in the Baltic States they have high-quality Estonian buses, with TVs and wifi, I don’t know what to expect of Polish ones. So I decided to opt for a train instead. There were no direct trains to Prague until the afternoon, and I wanted to arrive whilst it’s still light outside.

I looked up connecting trains, and google told me to a get a train from Warsaw to Bohumin, and change there for Prague. However, the ticket machines at the station didn’t have Bohumin as a destination option, so I had to get creative. I looked up a map of Europe, and searched for cities close to the Polish/Czech border. I am now on a train to Katowice, and I’ll figure it out from there.

It’s occurred to me that if I’m changing hostels in Prague, I may as well stay an extra night in Poland. I have no idea what Katowice is like, given that it’s just a random place I picked off a map. And there’s nothing I can do right now because I have no wifi, but perhaps once I’m there I’ll look up the possibility of a getting a hostel for the night.

I find it strange how laid back I feel about this. Normally I’m a control freak, and triple-check everything to make sure it goes exactly as I intend. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from travelling, it’s that no matter how careful you are, not everything will go to plan. So maybe sometimes it’s good to ditch that plan altogether.

Once you realise you don’t have to be so rigid, there’s a great sense of freedom. I’m currently on a train to a destination I know nothing about, and I might even stay the night. That’s pretty cool. And I love that travel forces me to think on my feet and forget my control freak nature for a little while.

I’ve been feeling a lot lately like this trip hasn’t changed me nearly as much as my trip to Estonia last year, and I’ve felt sad about that. Because this time one of my main reasons to travel was because I wanted to change. Yet I’m four countries deep into my trip already, and I’m still preoccupied by the same things that preoccupy me in my normal life, I still have the same character flaws I’ve always had. Shock, horror, I haven’t found myself.

Not that there’d be much to find. I already know myself too well. I’m very self-aware, and I’m as intimately familiar with every flaw as I am with every aspect of my good nature. But surely there’s some untapped potential in me somewhere, surely there’s something left for me to find.

I always thought of myself as a strong person, and generally a good one. I ascribe to the life philosophy of “do no harm, but take no shit”, and that is very much what I live by in my relationships with other people. But is that how I act when it comes to myself?

There’s this line in Lorde’s song “Liability” where she describes her love for herself as “the only love I haven’t screwed up”. It’s possibly the only line in the song that I can’t relate to, and therefore it’s the one line that always catches me, always makes me think. Because I have screwed up my love for myself, over and over again. The strength I have in other areas of my life seems to fall short when it comes to taking care of myself.

I keep thinking of all the times I’ve let myself feel worthless because I failed to get attention from people I wanted it from. There were so many times when I let myself be broken by people who had no idea of the effect they had on me. Or worse, by people who did know, and I fell right into their trap. I should know by now that my worth does not lie in the minds or hearts of other people.

The other thing I’ve realised is just how easily I give up. I’m the first to admit that I can be a very lazy person, but this isn’t even laziness. I’ve been trying to lose weight for most of my life, and I always get to a certain point and just…stop. I thought it was different this time – I got into running, it was going well. But I haven’t run since Tartu, and I ate so much unhealthy food in Vilnius. I can claim that eating donuts is self-care all I like, but that doesn’t change the fact it goes against everything I’m trying to do. I’m too easily swayed by short-term desires – where’s my inner strength now, huh?

Or why haven’t I finished editing my book that I’ve been rewriting for TWO YEARS? Sometimes I’m not the person I expect myself to be, and I let myself down way too often.

***

I decided not to stay in Katowice. I just wanted to get to Prague. When I arrived at the station, my first order of business was to find coffee and wifi. I soon located a Starbucks. I asked the barista if he spoke English, and he said no. I didn’t realise straight away that he was being sarcastic, and I felt like a bit of an idiot when the penny finally dropped.

I spent about two hours in Katowice train station. I attempted to get a ticket from the self-service machines, but they did not have a single destination in the Czech Republic. I was beginning to freak out, when I saw that the ticket office had a section for international destinations. I finally found someone who spoke English, and explained that I was trying to get to Prague.

There were no direct trains, but I got a ticket to Ostrava, and one from there to Prague. All in all, I spent nine hours of the day on trains.
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Whilst I had planned to switch hostels, I couldn’t find anywhere else available at such short notice, so I was stuck with the one ages away from the city centre. I’d finally learnt my lesson, and refused to walk for an hour and a half with the Evil Backpack and the Laptop Case from Hell, so I had no choice but to navigate public transport.

The joy of being further west than my previous destinations was that Prague has a Metro system (I don’t hate all undergrounds, just the London one). I’m used to the Glasgow subway, which is a circle, so any underground system with more than two tracks gives me the fear. But, with a little aid from google, I figured out how to use the metro, and got to my hostel.

I emerged from the Metro station to a darkening sky. On one side there was an expanse of grass, and sketchy-looking blocks of flats. On the other side, there was a road, and more dodgy-looking tower blocks. My hostel was nine minutes walk away: the road was dark, and the footpath shrouded with trees. I spent the entire walk swearing aloud, with phrases like “fucking typical Eliza, of course you booked a hostel in the fucking creepy end, now you’re probably going to fucking die!” But I lived to tell the tale, so all was well.

13th July 2017 –

Prague is beautiful. It was only when I came out from the Metro station that I realised I hadn’t actually seen any of the city last night, apart from the rather sketchy area near my hostel. Here it was a different world to what I’d seen last night. The buildings were ornately decorated; they reminded me a little of some of the art nouveau architecture in Riga, though there was a stronger sense of grandeur, and perhaps more of a western influence than there was in Riga. Also, it was far more touristy.

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I wandered down random streets, choosing my way based on which buildings looked the coolest, or which streets had the fewest tourists. The buildings were gorgeous, and I was enchanted by this city. I walked until my hunger got the better of me, and I stopped by a supermarket to pick up some food for breakfast.

I went to the park across the street from the supermarket to eat. I sat on a park bench, overlooking a fountain, in a garden of red roses, eating grapes in the morning sunshine, and watching the world go by. It was peaceful, and beautiful.
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I then went to the astronomical clock, one of Prague’s major tourist attractions. It was the most tourist-infested place I have ever been (with the exception of perhaps London). The past month in Eastern Europe made me forget just how many tourists can fit in one place. It was an introvert’s nightmare. I soon escaped the hoards, and went to Starbucks. The staff spoke English, which was a relief. They spelt my name horrifically wrong (Alaneliza – how???????), which I found rather amusing. I then explored more of the city, crossing one of the stone bridges to the far side of the river, where the city sprawled across a hill, interspersed with trees, gardens, vineyards, and orchards.

It was quieter here, less touristy. I’d avoided the Charles Bridge, where all the tourists flocked, and instead crossed the river by a less popular route. I followed a winding road up the hill, with a high stone wall on my left. The wall soon gave way to a doorway, and I discovered a park, filled with apple and pear trees. Neither the apples or the pears were ripe. I learned this the hard way.

I meandered through the streets on the hill, and came across an English language bookshop. Naturally, it was named after Shakespeare. Because who else would you name an English bookshop after?
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As I wandered through the city streets, I began to realise that, for the first time in this journey, I wished that I wasn’t alone. I walked past so many cafes and bars, and thought of how cool it would be to go to such places. But there would be no fun in going alone. One of the best things about Lithuania was that I’d had a friend to meet with almost everyday. But in Prague I was all alone again, and I couldn’t stand it. I missed human company. I didn’t feel like myself any more.

For someone who frequently describes themself as an introvert, I need social interaction as much as I need time alone. If I’m alone with my thoughts for too long, I begin to drive myself mad, and I need to be around other people to remember that I’m not crazy, to remember where I fit into the world.

The existential crisis began with this realisation, but it soon increased to cover many topics. I couldn’t stop thinking that how I look on the outside doesn’t match who I am on the inside. Whilst a few weeks ago, in Tartu, I had written that I fully loved and accepted myself, and didn’t hate how I looked, the opposite was now true. I looked back on my photos from Lithuania and couldn’t believe how huge I looked.

When I get into this mindset I begin to blame all my problems on the way I look. I start wondering if people would like me more if I were shorter and thinner, if people would view me differently. When a short, thin person has a big personality they’re likeable, they’re cute, they’re considered to be a good thing. But when someone who is tall and overweight has a big personality then they’re considered overbearing. I often feel like I take up too much space in the world. And I mask that feeling as much as I can, by trying to be funny, trying to be liked, trying to at least earn all the space that I can’t help but occupy. But I don’t want to just be the funny fat girl, the loud girl who makes inappropriate jokes. I just want to be viewed as a full person, and it sucks that I live in a world where I feel like people don’t view me as such because I don’t look the “right” way.

14th July 2017 –

My existential crisis continued when I awoke. I stood in front of the mirror, a tube of lipstick in my hand, and I hesitated. What is the point in painting my lips a vibrant pink when I feel like the rest of my body is repulsive? Why should I even bother?

I did choose to put it on in the end, because nothing can stand between me and my favourite lipstick. But it didn’t cure my feelings of inferiority. I went to Starbucks, in the hope that coffee would make me feel a little more confident. It worked to some extent, but not entirely.

I then went to cross the river again, this time crossing at the Charles Bridge, like a touristy cliché. There were some really cool buildings, and cobbled streets, and the blue skies and tram lines that I will always associate with Eastern Europe. As I walked up a rather steep hill, my ears were met with the sound of cello music, from a street performer. When I looked across the street to see the source of the music, I couldn’t help but smile.

The cellist was dressed in 18th century clothing, right down to the white curly wig. There’s nothing that delights me more than a person who can be unabashedly weird for the sake of their art. Our eyes met across the street, and he grinned right back at me. He was so pretty! I crossed over, to give him some money, and his tune came to an end. I told him I loved his outfit, and he asked where I was from. I told him I was from England. He asked what music I like, and I said something lame like “I like lots of music”, because I was too busy melting in his beautiful brown eyes. He asked if I liked Game of Thrones, and I said yes. Then he played the Game of Thrones theme tune, with exuberance, grinning at me the whole time. I was completely enchanted by this beautiful man. He then told me he was going to play a sad tune. I stood around for a while, listening to him play. But my anxiety soon got the better of me, and I waved goodbye, smiled at Hot Cello Guy a final time, and left.

I was in a brilliant mood as I explored more of the city. I climbed to the top of the hill, and was met with a marvellous view. I then found a cute little vegan cafe, and bought a green smoothie. I waited for a little while, and then walked back down the street where I’d seen Hot Cello Guy. I made sure to walk on the other side of the street, because interacting with humans gives me anxiety. Even when they’re really pretty, talented humans with big brown eyes.
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I sat on the edge of a fountain, thinking about Hot Cello Guy, and asking myself why I’d deliberately walked on the other side of the street. I realised that it was because I didn’t want to ruin the fantasy. Whilst Eliza the Idealist thought such thoughts as “we totally had a moment”, Eliza the Realist understood that sometimes a cute stranger is just a cute stranger, and nothing more.

But I also understood the significance of strangers as the signs on our path, to point us in the right direction. The thing that I liked most about Hot Cello Guy (apart from his pretty eyes and the dramatic flare of his outfit) was that he made eye contact with me, and that he gave his smiles freely. I forgot how important that was to me. I know people who I think are very attractive, but who never meet my eyes, and rarely smile, and when they do smile, they’re smiling to themselves, rather than smiling at me. And whilst it doesn’t stop me from thinking they’re good-looking, it does always make me feel like they don’t like my company. Because when I’m around people who make me happy, I smile all the time, I make eye contact when I speak to them. And it’s important to find people who do the same, because what is the point in investing in people who always leave you unclear as to where you stand with them?

So I began to think that the reason Hot Cello Guy crossed my path was to put things into perspective. If a stranger can seem more enthusiastic about interacting with me than people who I’ve invested a lot of my time and hopes in, then that is a massive sign that I need to redirect my energy elsewhere. Because I want people who smile, I want people who can look me in the eye. I want a damn optimist, someone who is human sunshine, and when I forget this then I should remind myself of Hot Cello Guy, because he made me feel better about myself within a few minutes than some people have made me feel within months of knowing them.

I wandered around at random for a while, and soon came to a grassy slope of the hill, where plum, and pear. and apple trees grew. I saw some steps in the distance, and a path which I suspected must lead to the peak of the hill. I remembered a time in May when I went hiking with some of my friends, and how it made me realise I’d grown as a person. Because hiking felt like torture for my legs, but I didn’t complain. And normally I would have complained. And afterwards I was like “whoo, I’m a mature adult who can hike up steep hills in the rain and not complain”. Remembering this made me want to hike up the hill which stood before me now. Except I do not hike alone. Because I am lazy, and I am less motivated if there are not other people around to witness my laziness.

I took this as a sign that I should indeed hike up the hill, to prove a point to myself. I needed to push myself, and hiking up a hill in the thirty degree heat seemed like a good way to do that. I couldn’t find the path which went straight up, so instead I followed a diagonal one, which looped around and made the journey a lot longer. Sometimes I left the path behind altogether, scrambling up steep surfaces laden with loose rocks and dry dirt.

I was covered in sweat and sunshine as I reached the summit of the hill, surrounded by gardens of roses. People milled about, taking photographs. A child rode upon a pony in the distance. Sunlight made the world shimmer. And for the second time today, I gained some perspective.
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When I was drunk in Lithuania, I came out with some analogy of how life is like a hill. And I can’t for the life of me remember what it actually was. But if there’s on thing I’ve learnt, it’s that climbing hills can teach you a lot about life. Once you reach the top, you have a clearer and broader view of your surroundings, but also of yourself.

As I stood, tanned and sweaty and smiling at my own strength, I could see that I had been way too hard on myself, punishing myself for things which didn’t merit punishment. I realised I had to be more lenient, to treat myself before I went into full-on self-destruct mode. I couldn’t spend the rest of my trip in such a toxic mindset.

I hadn’t read a book since I left Tartu, but in bed that night I began reading the book “Everything, Everything”, which I’d bought from a bookshop back when I was in Tallinn. “Everything, Everything” is a YA romance, of the type which I hadn’t read in a couple of years, but it was exactly the book I needed to read at this time, because it taught me the simple lesson of: when someone wants you in their life, they will do everything possible to keep you in their life.

It is literally that simple, yet it is always something I’ve struggled with. Because I am by nature a go getter. When I want something, I pursue it. If I’ve set my hopes on something, I will try my hardest to make it happen. And whilst that works with writing novels, or running 5k, or getting good grades in exams, it doesn’t work when it comes to people. Because people have free will, and they are not objects or achievements that I can gain. They have to want me as much as I want them, and I always seem to forget this. But thanks to my reading material, I realised that I need to change my ways. The people who want a place in my life will try to earn it, I shouldn’t have to make all the effort.

I feel as though every book I’ve read so far on this journey has come into my hands at the right moment, as though the books I read are guidebooks on how I should live my life.

15th July 2017 –

Do you ever have one of those moments where you become so sick of your own bullshit? I have them frequently. As a general rule, they occur for me every few months, coming on a the back of a week-or-so of existential crises.

I woke up this morning and realised that I have been utterly deluding myself for weeks, if not months, and that I need to get out of my negative mindset right this moment.
If only it were that easy. My mind is fully submerged in negative patterns right now, and I can’t shift them, no matter how hard I try.

I’m angry at myself for not being content. I love Prague, I should be happy here, rather than wasting my time being negative. I feel like I’m punishing myself for something, and I feel like I’m punishing myself for punishing myself. Mostly, the punishment seems to be around food. I’d banned myself from anything unhealthy, yet I feel like by doing so I’m being even more unhealthy.

Today I slept till eleven. I had an apple and some rice crackers for breakfast, and then went to the centre centre and got coffee. Following yesterday’s decision, I knew I needed to do something to treat myself, because I hadn’t been very kind to myself lately. I decided I would go to a vegan cafe for lunch, and be a bit more lenient about my food rules. But the two cafes I tried were closed, and I could feel myself growing frustrated.

I bought a vegetable juice, and then walked around for a few hours. I eventually gave up on finding somewhere nice to eat, and went into Tesco. It started raining as I left the supermarket, and my mood grew worse and worse. I was so fed up with everything. As I walked back to my hostel from the Metro station, I began attempting to eat this melon I’d bought. It was a quarter of a yellow watermelon, and not a particularly easy size to eat, so I tried to break it in half. Instead of breaking, it fell to the muddy ground. I responded with a very loud screech of frustration, and a whole lot of cursing. It felt as though each time I tried to find happiness I was thwarted by fate.

***

My roommate is driving my crazy. It’s bad enough that her phone is not on silent, and beeps with every key she presses, and has a loud ringtone. On top of all this, she was shaving her legs IN THE ROOM without soap or water. Would it be so hard to do it in the shower like a normal person? She wiped the hairs from the floor, but I doubt she was thorough. She then proceeded to eat a very crunchy, smelly salad WITH HER MOUTH OPEN and she keeps looking at me with her stupid face and I want to slap her! Sometimes I cannot stand to be around other humans.

16th July 2017 –

I try to live by the philosophy that every day is a new day. Also known as: just because I was a moody bitch yesterday, it doesn’t mean I have to be one today. I had grand plans to wake up early and have a fun day of adventure. I set my alarm for 8am, and at 10:25 I finally slithered down the ladder of my bunk bed.

I fell easily into my morning routine: get dressed, apply copious amounts of lipstick (generally bright pink, but today I pulled out the big guns and wore red), ride the Metro 7 stops, go to Starbucks and drink a very large cup of positivity/joy/will to live (also known as coffee). As I drink this magic drug, I reply to my messages, and then let my phone charge as I write in my diary. Routine keeps me sane, and it’s what I lacked in Riga and Vilnius.

I think one of the reasons I miss Glasgow so much is routine. Whether it was my morning coffee at Cafe Twenty-Two in the Queen Margaret Union, or lectures, or regular exercise, or improv two times a week… I always knew what I had to do, and where I had to be. The world was big enough for me there. Did I actually want to escape it?

I seem to have misplaced my wanderlust. It’s probably lying in the same dustbin as my self-worth.

The hardest part of being in this frame of mind is the knowledge that I only have myself to blame. I always pride myself on being an honest person. I’m blunt, tactless, and obvious, and I always wear my heart on my sleeve (or practically tattooed on my forehead). Yet I have been lying to myself for as long as I can remember. I give myself false hope, I tell myself I need to change to be worthy.

I have been a complete and utter moron for months, and deluded myself into thinking I was fine. But I was never fine, and now I have a hell of a lot of soul-searching to do, because I don’t even know who I am any more. I have the strange urge to cry right now. But I still have just enough dignity left to stop myself from bursting into tears in the middle of Starbucks (I hope). I’m sad and I’m lonely and I just want a hug. I remind myself that I’ll be visiting my best friend in six days from now, and that I’ll get all the hugs I’ll need then.

I’m still so angry at myself for not being happy. Prague is one of the coolest cities I’ve ever visited, and I’m not appreciating it enough. I guess I just have to come back here one day. I hope I can get my mental shit together over the next few days, because I have been wanting to go to Berlin for years, and I refuse to let my dumbass negative mindset ruin that for me.

***

On today’s episode of Eliza’s Dumb Decisions, we have: getting off the Metro at a random stop to “experience more of the city”. I should use the term “city” very loosely here, because when I came out from the Metro station all I could see was a road and a large expanse of grass. I walked a little way and saw some buildings, but they seemed more like a small town than a capital city. Still, I decided to explore.

I explored a bit too far, and had no idea how to get back to the Metro station, so I just kept walking in the direction which I assumed would lead me back into the city centre. I soon realised just how far I’d gone. There was more grass and trees than there were buildings. I continued walking, searching for a Metro station. I walked for about an hour. I didn’t even know which side of the river I was on, so I had no idea where to go. I eventually saw a sign for the city centre, and headed in this direction. I located the river, and walked along the path which ran by its side. I estimated I must be a good few miles away from the city centre, given how remote this place seemed. I was mildly scared of getting murdered. It was a great relief when I finally stumbled upon a Metro station.

I didn’t go straight back to my hostel, because I wanted to get food, so I headed into the city instead. I came across a vegetarian cafe, and to my delight I saw that it was a self-service place, so I didn’t have to deal with the language barrier. The downside was that it was a pay-by-weight place, and I ended up spending more money than I intended, because I didn’t know how much it cost until it was too late. I also bought way too much food.

17th July 2017 –

I’m pretty sure I saw Hot Cello Guy again today. He wasn’t in his costume, and he didn’t have a cello with him, but he was right next to the spot where he’d been busking the other day, and I recognised him by his beautiful face. However, now that he wasn’t sitting down, I realised that he was rather short. Shorter than me. But still so pretty!

I went to the cafe from yesterday again. And somehow ended up spending even more than I’d spent yesterday! But I enjoyed the food a lot more than I had last night. Even though I ate too much, I wasn’t so angry at myself about it. There are worse things to overeat on than vegetable curry and sushi.

When I returned to my hostel, I decided to do something I hadn’t done in a very long time: go for a run. I wasn’t particularly keen on the idea at first. But I’d been looking at motivational weight-loss posts on Pinterest, and I was feeling inspired. I ran for a mile, and returned out-of-breath and exhausted, yet happy.

18th July 2017 –

I awoke in a wonderful mood, which I can only assume was a result of my run last night. As it was my last full day in Prague, I decided I should make an effort to see more of the city. As I rode the Metro towards my destination, the woman who sat across from me smiled at me. She was well-dressed, and fiddling nervously with papers in her handbag. I think perhaps she was on her way to a job interview. I like smiling at strangers with whom I do not share a language. It makes the world seem smaller, and in a good way.

I thought I was going to a cemetery, but the cemetery turned out to be adjacent to a vineyard. And the vineyard was way cooler. The cemetery was very catholic, with tombs and gravestones of Jesus on the cross, and the Virgin Mary. I couldn’t help thinking how weird it is that graveyards are tourist attractions. I was literally walking between rows of long-dead people. Such a strange concept.

The vineyard was located atop a hill, and offered splendid views of the city, with the river sparkling in the sunshine below. I was completely happy, all the negativity which had consumed me only a couple of days previously had now vanished.
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I went to the vegetarian cafe again for dinner, and finally managed to get the right amount of food so that I wouldn’t have to spend too much money. It felt as though everything was finally going right.

When I returned to my hostel, I showered and changed into the shirt and leggings that I wore as pyjamas, and then began to pack up my stuff, as I would be leaving in the morning. The lockers didn’t have locks in them, and I’d shoved my laptop in the back of a locker, behind a mountain of my clothes. I hadn’t used it since arriving in Prague, because I hadn’t had the energy or motivation to type up my blogs.

The Laptop Case from Hell felt strangely light as I pulled it out from the locker. To my horror, I realised that the only reason a laptop case would feel light is if it does not contain a laptop. I searched the remaining contents of my locker, panicking. Surely it must be in here somewhere! It took a while for it to sink in that someone had actually stolen it. I ran down to reception, and explained what had happened. They said there was nothing they could do, because the locker wasn’t locked and I didn’t have travel insurance. I considered reporting it to the police, but I was leaving the country the next morning, and also I was worried about the language barrier.

I have always believed I am lucky, and that no matter what dumb situation I get myself into, I will always get myself out of it. I genuinely believed that a miracle would happen and my laptop would be returned to me. But it didn’t happen, and I was devastated.

It was not the actual laptop that I mourned. It was a shitty laptop, which didn’t connect to wifi most of the time. There were many occasions where I resented carrying it around with me and almost wished I could just throw it in the nearest rubbish bin. The laptop was not important to me, but the contents of it were, because they had a huge sentimental worth.

Thankfully the majority of my books were saved on a memory stick, so I didn’t lose my writing. And most of my music was on my phone. But I lost all my photos. A lot of my photos were also stored on my phone, and I was grateful that I hadn’t lost all my pictures from my first trip to Estonia. But there were photos I’d deleted off my phone.

I hate deleting photos, because it feels like deleting history. But when a toxic friendship came to an end, I forced myself to remove all photos of that friend from my phone, and compromised with myself and kept those photos on my laptop. It’s not like I ever looked at them any more, or that I ever intended to. But I couldn’t bear the thought of permanently deleting the evidence of a friendship which made me who I am today. Yet thanks to the laptop thief, I’ve lost those photos forever. Granted, I haven’t lost all of them. If I was ever overcome with a desire to relive six months worth of heartbreak, I could just scroll back through facebook or instagram to find photos of me and my former friend. But those are the “nice” pictures. I’ve lost the silly pictures, the goofy pictures, the ugly pictures. And it felt like I lost that friend all over again.

Perhaps it’s a good thing, in the long run. Perhaps losing those photos cut the last tie, and I am finally free from any aspect of that person I was still clinging onto. But it hurt like hell. It’s one thing if I decided to delete those photos (which I doubt I would have), if I had consented to letting go. But that decision was stolen from me by the person who stole my laptop, and I was so, so angry.

It took me hours to get to sleep. I didn’t feel safe any more; I didn’t trust my roommates. I slept with my handbag snuggled into my arms, and my phone under my pillow, terrified of losing anything else of value. To combat my insomnia, I googled reviews of my hostel, and was less-than-surprised to see that it had quite a number of bad reviews, some of which even referred to how bad the staff were at dealing with thefts being reported.

All I wanted was to get the hell out of there.

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