I guess if the worst thing that happens to me while traveling is to be seated next to an extremely smelly man on the plane from London to Prague, then I am doing fairly well. I mean this guy had some fierce B.O. and sweats like a pig in summer. But who I am to complain about a little unpleasant odor when there are massive school shootings creeping up across the country, Ana Nicole Smith had yet another baby, and Congressmen are getting in trouble for pursuing young boys? My little “on board complaints” don’t amount too much given the correct perspective. I mean, I didn’t get hassled at security, no one bothered to check through my suitcase, and I arrived about fifteen minutes early in my new home: Prague. So what if my only on board meal was tuna salad sandwich…which I exchanged…for cheese and coleslaw. I arrived in Prague a little hungry and a little buzzed. The red wine was free.
And that’s what I get for speaking to soon.
As soon as I passed through customs my journey took on a whole new light. The travel service I was supposed to check in with was closed. Okay… I don’t have anyone to ask, and I have to figure this out. After about fifteen minutes I wandered outside and finally found the service. I was told specifically NOT to go directly to the cars but … I hoped in the mini bus. I was tired and a little scared. Prague looks really creepy at night. Luckily for me I was sitting next to a nice Scotsman who thrilled me with tales of his travels in Prague and how he had recently purchased a painting done by Cheetah the chimp from Tarzan. I kid you not. He paid about $100 for it over the Internet – something I am looking into.
I was the last to be dropped off – probably because I was the furthest from the city center. Prague center is called Praha 1, and I was to be living in Praha 9. We drove by some seedy joints with names like EROTIC CITY and CABERET CLUB, and I started to get the idea of just how far out of town I was. My fear level was rising as my confidence was dropping. I kept telling myself it would be all right because there was someone from the school waiting to meet me at the Hotel. I was dropped off at the Hotel Pivovar, which is located directly next door to the school. Some drunken German teenagers helped me with my bags, and it was then I noticed…
“Hey there American girl…your suitcase is buzzing. Do you have a bomb or something?”
Um. No. That would be my vibrator. That’s right folks, somewhere between London and Prague my vibrator switched on. And stayed on. I had noticed it when retrieving my luggage off of the conveyer belt, but thought it was the vibrations from the belt. Yeah. I was tired.
Once I remedied that situation I got my welcome pack and a brief talk about metro lines and stuff. Again it was late and I was really hungry. The taxi arrived and we were driven to what was to be my new apartment. I was told I would be the only student there until Sunday. It was Thursday. Not good. I was also told that we would be the only students there. Not good again. I was hoping to stay with and meet people. Fear and anger came back.
We arrived at the apartment. I could tell it was bad before we walked in. It reeked of cigarettes and paint and piss. My companion took me upstairs and proceeded to try and unlock the door. I say try because the door wouldn’t open. The locks would not work. I now see this as divine intervention, but at the moment I saw my decision to move to Prague as an ever-blatant mistake. After about ten minutes worth of phone calls and apologies we went back to the hotel. He said, “I hope there is a room for you.”
“Oh there will be. And I am not staying in that apartment. Not tonight and not for the month.”
My room at the hotel was the EMERGENCY room. I guess in Prague it is customary to put people in tiny rooms behind the kitchen in an emergency. We walked back through a dorm style dining area and then ducked down to my room. It had a bed and a little pane of glass that wanted to be a window when it grew up. But some dreams are just never meant to be realities.
I began to lose it. I mean really lose it. I took what little money I had down to the lobby and bought two beers and ten minutes on the janky old computer. I was totally panicked, and when panicked I need to talk to Byron. I know now that this was not the best thing to do, seeing that he wants space from me, but at the time I just needed him.
Sitting alone and sobbing I tried to drink beer through my tears. I sat on the bed and looked out the little window. Window… wireless? It was about 11:30 pm when I found wireless through that tiny pane of glass in my room. EUREKA! It was as though I had a lifeline. Honestly, up until then I was alone: in the middle of the night, in a strange country, and scared to death. I was freaking out, exhausted and just wanted to talk to someone. I had never in my life felt so sad and alone. And then add to that the fact that I had not eaten or slept in at least 24 hours, and you will get an idea of the state I was in. I really wanted to go home.
I emailed everyone who had Byron’s number asking that they please have Byron email me or go on line so that I could IM him. In hindsight I see that this was not the best idea. But at the time I felt like if I couldn’t get a hold of him…I don’t know.
I finally got a hold of my friend Christine via Myspace IM. Thank god. She really helped me through the night. We talked about survival and about love and about being brave. She helped me cry a lot and feel like it would all be all right. She comforted me and told me it was okay to be afraid. These are the kind of thing that I have always counted on Byron for, but not anymore. He no longer wants to be that person for me and I think I was realizing that at the same time I was most alone in the world. Bad combo, huh?
When I finished with Christine I saw that Byron had been trying to IM me. I opened up a connection window, but he never replied. His window opened, but – nothing was said. My computer was running on reserve, so I had to disconnect. Never had a word so accurately applied to how I felt.
I cried a lot. I thought of the ways I could get home the next day. I thought about what a failure I was. What was I thinking, moving to Prague alone? I tried to sleep, but the drunk German’s made it difficult, that and the fact that I had to go down the hall to use the bathroom.
At about 3am, my computer had recharged enough for me to get online again. When I got on line, Jenn was there. We IM’d for a while. She had called Byron for me to tell him I was upset. This was met with the response, “What does she want me to do? She’s in a foreign country.”
And I guess that about sums it up doesn’t it. I had people who cared about me and wanted to make sure I was all right. It just so happened that Byron was not one of those people anymore. That sucked more than the crappy apartment and the feelings of doubt I was having.
In the morning, fixed it. I channeled Jenn and MADE them switch me to the Villa where all of the other students were staying. I don’t want to go into detail, but she would have been proud.
I now have a fantastic place and three roommates: Christiana, Summer and Molly. I’ll tell you more about them later and what it was like shopping for groceries in Prague. But for now, I’m all right. I am happy and on my own.