I probably wouldn’t be sitting here if Rostislav didn’t throw in my face, what he threw in it. Sitting in seat no. 13 in a crowded compartment on the Šohaj express. Thirteen is my lucky number, so I consider my seat assignment quite symbolic in spite of the fact that someone has written “sucker” on my headrest. My birthday is on the 13th. The 13th of May. That’s today. It’s the start of the last phase of my childhood, which I only realize once it’s over. No one finds that out beforehand.
The landscape moving quickly past the window matches the speed of the train and there’s nothing “express” about it. But I don’t mind. I’m not in any hurry. I have time. I put on my sunglasses because the sun is now shining directly on to my face so that I have to squint, which gives me crow’s feet. Which reminds me I’m already 33. Three is the first actual real number, as opposed to the one as a unit and the two as its counterpart. Three is the beginning, the middle and the end. Three is the past, the present and the future. Three is the father, the mother and the child. Like me. Three is faith, hope and love, at least according to Google, until I lose my cell reception. Then I’m resigned to watch all the colorful clothes hanging on the balconies along the train tracks. Towels, boxers, sweatpants with stretched out knees, pajamas and old T-shirts blow in the wind in celebration of the victory of working women everywhere, or people everywhere, to be politically correct – equal opportunity was a big issue at my old company, equal pay, equal overtimes, same company gifts, delicate flowers for the men and bottles of expensive liquor for the women. There was even a two-month long debate over unisex toilets and a standardized email greeting, which was finally settled on an inoffensive “Hello everyone.” Toilets remained gender assigned. Before our train manages to chug along past the clothes lines at its killer speed, women/men take the clothes down, and those on top of their domestic game even manage to iron and fold them. I yawn.
I take my ticket out of my plain black wallet given to me by my ex-boyfriend’s wife along with the bitterly worded note kindly asking me to start paying for myself. I wait my turn in the cluster of outstretched hands. I’d have a shot of vodka and put my life in order or get wasted and block out the mess that is my life for another day or two. But I don’t have any room left to block out all of my failed attempts, unanswered questions and misunderstandings. My head is like this crowded compartment, I can’t breathe but I can’t for the life of me get the window opened. I’m so embarrassed to ask for help that I don’t ask for it. If the older elegant gentleman in the grey hat sitting next to me didn’t open it I may have suffocated.
“We could use some fresh air in here,” he says and sits down.
There’s eight of us in the compartment altogether. Me, the man in the hat, a resolute woman with two walking canes and two children, a student with a French On y va! textbook and a young couple who have had their tongues shamelessly down their throats for the past hour. I may have daydreamed myself into thinking that I am in fact travelling through the French countryside to Paris were it not for the blunt THE FUCK ARE YOU LOOKING AT graffiti on the opposite wall. The word “fuck” underlined. Twice. I’m not going to Paris. I’m heading to 48° 57’13” latitude and 17°22’35” longitude. Try finding it on a map. I used to be convinced that there about lies the edge of the world or at least its butthole. I felt nothing but disdain for everything that I didn’t like and anything that didn’t meet my expectations I had of the big wide world. I mocked the tastelessness, the accent, the hillbilliness, everything seemed so completely outdated and I didn’t want to let any of it to get to me or to admit to myself that some of it is still very much a part of me. Me – the girl from the big city, who’s not a girl from the big city at all. I’m hopelessly incapable of becoming someone I’m not.
车厢里一共有我们八个人。我，戴帽子的先生，表情严肃拄两根手杖带着两个小孩的女人，一个带着本On y va！法语课本的学生，和一对在过去一个小时一直旁若无人卿卿我我的年轻情侣。要不是对面墙上写着“你丫看什么呢”的涂鸦，我可能真的会做白日梦以为自己正在穿过法国农村去巴黎的路上。涂鸦中的“你丫的”还特别做了强调。而且强调了两次。我不是去巴黎。我是去北纬48° 57’13”，东经 17°22’35”。你可以试试在地图上找到这个地方。我曾经认为那附近是世界边缘，或者起码是世界的屁眼儿。对于这个辽阔世界一切不讨我喜欢或者没达到我期望的地方，我都不放在眼里。我嘲笑这个世界的索然无味、方言、下里巴人，一切似乎都完全过时了，而我并不想被影响或者对自己承认自己也难以免俗。我—大城市来的姑娘，根本不是来自大城市的姑娘。我无可救药地不能成为另一个人。