Monday 16 February
The snow had melted to form miniature mountain ranges clinging to the roadside by the time I left Zagreb. I imagined tiny skiers slaloming down between the dirty rocks of melting slush. With hands shaken, I jumped in a cab to transport me to the bus station, where a 14 hour overnight journey awaited. I’d slept all but a little of the day, with my body clock its usual erratic self, so I knew I had an almost interminable reading session ahead. This was to be punctuated by lengthy stops at borders, the sounds of dying animals snoring, and coffees at lonely, icy gas stations in the dead of night. The crescent moon hung like a toe nail clipping in the sky, a cut in the fabric of the universe, as gears ground passengers away from city lights into the darkness.
I rested my head for as long as I could stand on the cold, shuddering window, but the vibrations shook me off in seconds. Irregular street lamps shot by like a night-time rocket assault in a city under siege. Leaning back in an uncomfortable seat, the gangway lights snuffed out, and thoughts took over. There is something uniquely powerful about being the only one awake during an overnight journey, especially as a stranger in a strange land. I revel in the thrill of my attempted cogent confidence, like I’ve done this a hundred times before. I know what I’m doing, so follow me. It’s gratifying, but ultimately; extremely lonely. Nobody is awake to exalt my pointless pretense.
I was returning to Sofia. The scene of so many a debaucherous crime in the summer before. The heat of that heady hour long gone, as were the dear friends I was lucky enough to share with and revel in that indubitable magic of a late September. But those memories will endure many a seasons test.
And it’s on such a stage as this, when the world seems to slow to a quiet; the space between a hummingbirds wings; that you naturally begin to reflect on days gone by, recent events, or why you pushed your sister down the stairs when you were six. There is nothing that stirs your memory so as traveling through the mid AM for great distances, Jack Frost’s frustration in biting only at glass, with dawns’ suggestion on the horizon. If you’re lucky enough to be awake in that moment of almost perfect stillness; you can travel through time.