ONE DAY IN MY LIFE: Where is home?

After a very long time writing in Czech language only, I am finally posting another piece of my work in English. I wrote this article for the czech magazine "Respekt" (Respect), which I dreamed about working for. So here I am. :)


The alarm goes off at 4:25 a.m. I’ve turned it off in advance as I haven’t closed my eyes since quarter to two anyway. I am attempting to sneak out of the room in a way every parent knows, flush as quietly as possible, daub some makeup on in the break of dawn and fold some remaining odds and ends into the suitcase. Toothbrush. Slivovitz!

"Don’t you want more?" my father asks. "Have you packed your snack? Pribinacek for Ben?" mum whispers. Still in my socks I run through the house I grew up in to quickly say goodbye in my mind to the teddy, books that I’m leaving behind, because they wouldn’t fit into the suitcase, and to the scenery of South Moravia enveloped in the darkness. Will I ever come back? 

I'm distracting these thoughts with activity, waking up my son who has been dressed since the evening, just putting on a cap, strapping him into the baby seat. Then a kiss from my grandpa, a weeping kiss from my grandma and hurry up - the plane doesn’t wait.  

Not only is it time to fly. It is mainly the time to take responsibility and start being mature again after seven weeks. Being a kid won’t cut it anymore. Lying on the sofa, waiting for a hot tea, letting myself to be dressed in a warm sweater, talking back and making fun of my parents not knowing what MeToo, Netflix or a hashtag is. Now I have to grow up. I'm sad about all this. Although, these early morning departures which don’t allow for long farewells and tears are nice. At least that is what I say to myself in the car - already overwhelmed, with a snot dangling at my nose and my parents’ sentences on repeat in my head: "I have pain here, this doesn’t work as it should, we're getting old, God knows what the life brings, come on honey, who knows if I'm still here when you come back." I've heard them over the last six years so many times that I should be immune to it by now. But anyhow, it hurts all the same without a difference whether a person flies a thousand kilometres or six thousand. Maybe it hurts a little more this time because I am a little older and I don’t have a ticket booked for the next visit.

Meanwhile we stopped in Mikulov to buy an Austrian toll sticker and a Czech newspaper at the gas station. I am tempted to buy Tatranky as well, but I decide against it – I’d buy them only out of nostalgia. A message beeps on my phone. It is from my husband who is looking forward to see us: going to work, travel safe, see you shortly in Ancara, you’ll be here in two shakes! I’m sending a heart emoji back, turning off my phone and swapping the Czech SIM card for my Turkish one. Dammit! I forgot the PIN! For sure, it was some trivial combination. I didn’t even bother to note it down -  I’m not stupid after all. And now – after only seven weeks – here we go. I fumble in the Turkish coin purse whether I find a note by any chance. No success. But I found twenty thousand quid. It seems completely strange to me, different than two months ago when I was, with a sincere surprise, examining the two hundred Czech crowns note in my hand.

By this time, we are at the check-in. God bless Turkish Airlines; two suitcases, 32 kilos, breakfast on board, non-plastic cutlery and a cup of strong coffee which I down in a second before my son gets an idea to have a sip. Fortunately, no, he’s busy with tearing apart the inflight magazine and shreds are piling up under our feet. Again, I didn’t honour my resolution “not to take on board almost anything with me” and in a box under my feet there are even the traditional Czech Linzer cookies! Thus, there is not much space for us and because we have a window seat I’ll be able to use the toilet only when we land. So what, I am scared of flying anyway as well as sitting next to the window, even though it is the best spot for watching the sun peeking behind the darkest clouds. Maybe it could be an analogy of life? Meaning that however bad it may look, it is going to end well? I always say to myself that if faith doesn’t deceive me and God exists, he sits right here: on one of these clouds where he oversees the dark clouds, mountains, cities, lakes, rivers and us, little people, with our unnecessary disputes over boundaries that are invisible from up here anyway.

My son is falling asleep on my left forearm and I am scrolling through the screen. All the movies I have missed in the cinema in those twenty-two months since I became a mother. Finally, I decide to watch Christopher Robin, no wait, an hour and fifty minutes is gone and we are landing. Ankara is snowy and slow, so I have to wait for my two suitcases at the baggage reclaim for over an hour. If I was alone, I would read, but now I am hiding behind the pillars, screaming BOO!, guarding the big red emergency button for baggage belts and saving vodka bottles in a Duty Free shop, where my son loves to sprint all the way from the belts. 

Fantastic, the luggage is here. I am picking it up together with coats, scarfs, caps, box with the Christmas candy, laptop and my son and going to load everything into a taxi. I swear I’ve got everything and so we are all set to go. I’m holding my son’s little hand while exploring what has changed in the past couple of weeks during the drive. I get out of the taxi with a feeling that nothing has changed, really, but when I get home and glance at the baggage I suddenly panic – my laptop is missing! Overcome by stress and nostalgia I am balling my eyes out and listing the damage in my head: not only is gone the notebook itself without which I can’t work, but also unfinished articles, family photos, access information for apps, passwords that always appear pre-saved in a single click. And many, many other things that I haven’t backed up. I decide to call the taxi service but no luck, maybe at the airport? Hard to tell as they don’t speak English in the Lost and Found. Not even understanding a “laptop” which I’d say is a pretty universal word. So I pick up my kid again and go back to the terminals. Honestly, my hopes aren’t that high given the fact I had so much crap with me so I could have left the laptop anywhere. But a policeman I run into literally takes my breath away. He leads me into a room full of screens, where we find out from the records in a few minutes that I left the laptop in the trolley while getting into the taxi. Then he shows me that the person who found it called the security and handed it over to the Lost and Found, where it is waiting for me. Sorry, you know, no English here. Do I want the policeman to take me there and translate?

When we finally get home around seven, I am exhausted and moved by the fact that miracles happen, embraced by my man, whose American positivism doesn’t allow for anything else – of course miracles happen!

And now, it is midnight, two hours more than in the Czech Republic. Even though I have been awake for so many hours I am sitting on the window sill in our Ankara flat on the 21th floor and wondering how strange this moment is. Coming back to what I know well but feeling like a stranger at the same time. By two weeks’ time, Ankara will have become a home again and all that is Czech willend up in a kind of virtual bubble, so I won’t be as homesick as now. At least until the moment I come back there and week or two will have passed again and …