It was an early Friday night. My body was exhausted after the crazy week at work and I was more than delighted no to go anywhere tonight.
As I was carrying my basket full of laundry downstairs to the laundry room, I met my neighbor. Always a good-tempered guy suggested me to come and watch a movie.
The initial answer in my head was no, but I said yes. I wasn’t planning to do anything special anyways and I was entertained by the idea not to be alone.
Now, if your mind is already boosting you with some crazy fantasies about how the seemingly innocent Friday night might end up — no, this will not be that kind of a story.
Within half an hour I knocked on the door one floor below. We sat on a couch, watched some pretty bad comedy and had a chat during the boring scenes.
At one point the tall blonde guy mentioned that one of his most favorite books was Immortality from Milan Kundera. As he was disclosing me this information, he rose visibly excited and that attracted my curiosity even more.
“He is Czech, right?” asked the neighbor despite he knew the answer.
“Yes…yes, he is.” I said.
Like many times in this situation, I felt a bit proud and a bit disappointed. Once again I felt that strange pinch, that someone once again knows the Czech Republic, or heard about someone from the Czech Republic who “made it” — but never heard about Slovakia…but well, why would they anyway and I wasn’t surprised.
Despite we have a couple of successful people g.e. in sport, considering the current situation happening in that tiny piece of land I am sometimes even glad people usually don’t know anything about it.
If you are not familiar with the geological and historical facts, the Czech Republic and Slovakia used to be one country back in the old days and despite I was born after we split up, the Czech Republic is not “abroad” for me.
Before I´ve started reading in English, I´ve read 95% of all books in Czech, even though we have our language with slight differences. I kept writing my first blogposts in Slovak, but somehow…The Czech language sounds more home-like to me than “my own one”.
The movie was over. It wasn’t too late just yet, but I decided to go. Both of us were sleepy and there was a lot to do on my Saturday to-do list anyways.
I ran up the stairs and immediately downloaded the book. I was so curious about what that book is hiding…so excited to see what someone from abroad values about it…about something which is not even “mine”, but…it is so close…at least in my perception. Or maybe I am just lying to myself to feel like I have something to be proud about.
Of course, I wasn’t able to read the whole book that night, but something else happened.
The book I downloaded was in English. As you probably might have noticed, the attitude toward my country of origin is not the best, but suddenly, just right after reading the first page I felt very strange.
Since I learned speaking English, I tried to read all the books in English, no matter the country of origin of the author.
But now — it felt so odd.
As if I was betraying someone. The former matter of course (the language) has become a curiosity and I was throwing it away…I can understand and appreciate the uniqueness of the language in which it was written yet… I am not choosing it. The heart of the expat and rebellious resistance won and I kept reading in English, but it moved me. In a direction, I thought I would never go again.
In the end, I ran away from Slovakia, not Czech republic, but still…
Sometimes I am wondering if every expat sometimes feels like a schizophrenic.
When you were leaving you might have expected how much you change…and well, apparently you did, but not in a way of losing the old personality.
Now it is as if you had two. The new one and the old one. And the funny thing is — after a lot of inner fight and constant, many times involuntarily switching between them, you don’t want to choose.
One day you realized that simply you are both and will be both of them.
Yes, it´s for a headache. But if you are in the same situation as me and don’t feel like that, maybe I am just the weirdo here once again.
Life of an expat brings a lot of turbulences but from my point of view, it is a journey which was worth to take by all means.
When I finish the book I let you know what it hides. Or you can give it a shot yourself too.