"For a man who no longer has a homeland, writing becomes a place to live"
I remember exactly how I felt the minute I closed the door behind me after moving into my new flat in Prague. After a heart-wrenching break-up that was drawn out over many months back in England, I'd seen my ex-partner off at the main train station known as "hlavní nádraží" so he could travel on to his new partner. In that moment as I stood in my new surroundings, I was in 'emergency mode'. Minute by minute it was my job to survive and stay the right side of the edge of sanity. I was filled with a caffeine-like alertness to the loss I'd been through. I felt like I was in shock after surgery. As though they had removed a ventricle and replaced it with a machine instead. Except I would need to remember to keep breathing, to put one foot in front of the other to keep moving, lest the machine also forgot how to do its job.
That was late summer 2010. Gradually the temperature dropped and sunny days became a thing of the past. The Czech autumn turned into a very harsh winter and soon I was facing Christmas. It bore down on me with a pressure and shame that only being single in a family-obsessed country can generate. Ultimately, I was saved by a nasty cold forcing me to stay in bed and look after myself, which got me through to a day or so before New Year's Eve.
In my lemsip haze, I made a decision to send a sort of 'message in a bottle' to the universe to test my idea that I should pursue writing in some way. I told myself that I would write to a journalist and if I got a reply, I would take that as a sign. I picked up an old article I'd saved from a newspaper and sent an email to the author. A day later, I received a generous response, telling me that he sensed I must know how to survive tough times, so I should go ahead and test the waters with my writing.
Having had that one little positive indication, I followed in the footsteps of other blogs I read, namely www.belgianwaffling.com or http://mccookerybook.blogspot.com/ and set up a blogger page. I called it, 'Letters From the Edge of the Platform' in reference to the train station-related beginning of my move here. Bit by bit, I began to uncover a greater priority in my life. My day job was just a day job. And woe betide anyone who rubbed me up the wrong way, because I would get my revenge in an internet instant with a blogpost full of descriptive venom for their atrocious behaviour.
I realised that this frivolous-seeming occupation was in fact helping me develop another side to myself. I began to love what I could do with words and marvelled in, "the soft and soothing attempts of scrolling through my brain for just the right match of word for my mood [...] The sense of wistful wallowing in a field of language." Writing had become my new companion.
I also gained another companion. I got invited on a date, which turned into other dates. Before I knew it I was writing a blogpost entitled, "Love and other tragedies", beginning: "God save me - I think I've fallen in love. This is not very 'me'. I'm meant to be dynamic and fiercely independent and cynical." That 'love' (or tragedy) turned into a relationship and I tentatively started to explore the prospects of where this whole new lifestyle could lead me.
So far, I have known highs and lows in equal measure, including paid writing work and a wonderful holiday beyond my wildest dreams but also having to move out of my flat and find somewhere else to live just as I thought things must be looking up. Did writing a blog 'save me' from great hardship? Certainly not. Did it bring a little light at the end of the tunnel with which to see my way through the next challenge? Thankfully, yes.
Katya Evdokimova www.begemotfoto.com
Letters From the Edge of the Platform: