2023 chapters

2023-12-25T17:32:15

I am leaning against the door of the now largely empty room, which is permeated by the morning sun, through the window pane I can see the neighbor's terrace, the roses are still in full bloom, the gentle wind sways them. I feel like they are sending me off with a shy wave - I will miss this view that was the first thing I saw in the morning through my dreamy eyelashes. The roommate in the other room is still sleeping, not even the noise of cardboard boxes and bags as we staggered to the van managed to wake her up, so I decided to let her sleep, it was Sunday.

I was not able to bear the difficult dramatic goodbye that I know would have happened with her.

Everything is packed, I'm getting into the van, street is bathing in golden sun rays and everything is so peaceful. Driving through the city into direction of new beginning. We cross the bridge, and on the surface of the murky Danube, the sun rays fractions looks like a million stars are floating, behind me is the city where I grew up, not in the sense of birth, but as a person, this city taught me to mature and experience life as I never imagined that I will ever taste.

I felt grateful for that opportunity, now it's time to grow further apart.

Everything went so smoothly, finding a new apartment, transportation, organization, packing. I felt supported and encouraged, I felt like I was doing the right thing. I sat back comfortably in the seat, watching the scenery changing from one to another before me. Everything seemed so endlessly flat. The pastures where the cows and sheep mingled took the most of my attention, I absorbed that sight without thinking about when we would arrive, it seemed to me that I could drive and observe forever like this.

The nap was interrupted by "we've arrived."

I ran up the stairs, the third floor, unlocking the door behind which the living room spreads, which will also be my bedroom, a huge gray corner sofa which, when unfolded, can host four people. The only thing it lacks is natural light, on the left side there was a small additional room that was bathed in the hazy rays of the sun, the windows were more than dusty - I immediately gave it a purpose for a work space, it was the perfect size. A kitchen with a dining room that opened onto a terrace with a view of the former hotel that now stands as a monument to some happier times, maybe it was bigger than it needed to be, but I like spacious rooms, I like to sit in the kitchen, kitchen is much more than where food is prepared. The stale air could be felt, no one had obviously lived here for a long time, a good cleaning is in the offing. That's the disadvantage of renting out apartments in these areas, few of them make an effort to rent out the space so that you can actually move in and just put your things together. The bathroom left the least impression, there was not a single window, the only source of light was a light bulb, which is irritating.

The apartment was soon filled with cardboard boxes, and I was filled with excitement and planning where to start first. With the walls painting, they were crying out for a refresh, and orange wasn't really the best choice, except for two beautifully painted murals of the owner's ex-wife, which he pointed out were free to remove - such a sin, I decided to keep one anyway.

I spent the following days in a hurry to get everything sorted out as soon as possible so that I could start work. He was there and it brought me great relief, especially as I was still feeling the effects of my broken right arm which had healed, but the sudden pain of heavy exertion occasionally reminded me of that unfortunate event. The work was slow due to the poor quality of the walls, often the paint underneath would stick to the new layers and lumps would be visible. Finally, the kitchen and the work area were put in order, the walls were dry, things were packed in their place, after disagreements with the internet operator I was finally connected to the rest of the world and my working day could begin.

Torn between work and eager to get out and explore new surroundings, a new chapter in my life began. The summer was hot, even the nights did not let up, breathing without air conditioning was unimaginable. The first month flew by. I liked the quietness of the city, the fact that everything was within reach, I liked the new faces and the surprising foreign languages on the street, the impression that I didn't live in the same country. I was bothered by the occasional nostalgia for those old habits, paths and people, but that ardor that was smoldering in me could not be overcome.

Then first misunderstandings came up, found myself caught in slight confusion, am I living alone or we are living together?

Somehow we were to busy to discuss that fact. I didn't start a conversation on that topic, my day was too busy, after work I liked to ride my bike in the evening and watch the sunset, I enjoyed the freedom, the sun that brought tears to my eyes because of its beauty, I felt happy.

Being too busy has become frequent and somewhat tiring, work, preparing food, cleaning, taking care of everything. That support I mentioned started to fade, I ignored it and cheered that I could do it!

I can work for two, i can cook for two, i can take care of two, i can clean for two, I CAN DO THAT!

A small lump appeared under my left armpit and occasionally painfully reminded me that it was there, I ignored it in the hope that it would pass, remembering it disappeared like that once. Late autumn was very much here, the city was emptier than usual, I could no longer enjoy cycling and all I was fully devoted to was the apartment and what was happening in it. I found small occupations that would divert my mind from the dissatisfaction I was beginning to feel, I still hadn't spoken it out loud, and countless questions were swarming inside me.

The days were becoming more and more similar to each other, he had his dream routine and mine was already well established. We started arguing, differences in lifestyle started to surface, my confusion about whether we were living together was increasingly pointing to yes, but the input was only coming from one side. Sometimes I feel sad because we don't understand each other, the fear that I might have made the wrong move was quietly breathing down my neck. The lump under the armpit started to hurt more and became uncomfortable, pus started to drip with every additional pressure, the owner of the apartment suddenly decided to raise the rent after only three months.

Everything started happening so fast that there was no time to process, I was still occupied with work because every missed working hour was a minus in my budget, I could not allow myself a vacation, or I would rest when I was totally exhausted from arguments and pain. I forwarded the photo of the lump to my mom, and she forwarded it to a surgeon she knew, and the surgery followed. I was scared, not for the procedure but for the postoperative recovery, I was hoping for a very small harmless cut that would heal in the blink of an eye, I ended up with seven stitches and the inability to hold my arm next to my body.

Winter has already arrived and anxiety with it, the two of us still haven't managed to find a common language and in that period from this point of view I can say that my enthusiasm started to sink. I knew that in the coming period I would not be able to pay rent, bills and life, my armpit was still soaked in iodine and more than painful. My thoughts were occupied with what is the next step, what to do, how to manage in a situation when both of us are not working.

The New Year came into effect, we didn't celebrate it with joy, there was no party, there was no Christmas tree, I managed to make something that I can picture the decoration from, but all that together with the rest looked so sad, it didn't fit into the picture of me in which I still looked longingly and wished.

I didn't tell anyone about the details, I put it all together in layers and put it away, hoping that something would be sorted out. Financially, I was not able to look for another accommodation, the only thing I could do at that moment was to move out, not knowing where. It didn't occur to me to ask the owner of the apartment to wait for the rent, but once he caused me a scandal because the rent was not handed over to him in the morning but in the evening of the same day.

So I finally found the strength to speak up and ask "how about we temporarily move in with you?"

His house was in the village nearby, we will manage for money, my father promised me help, so we will be able to pay the bills and food, we will plant a garden in the spring, in the meantime I will recover and I will be able to start working again.

Somewhere there was hope that everything would be alright.

We moved in the middle of January...

The house is in the saloon style, built back in the days when the Germans lived in these areas, beautiful high walls that were decorated with rustic window panes, it is very visibly aged, but I liked it, especially in the morning when the sun would slip through the curtains and shine still green grass due to the mild winter. Another change in a short time made me take a deep breath and whisper to myself - you can do it. New people, new faces only to me, everything is different, the surroundings are even smaller, and the silence sounded different here. The presence of nature and wide fields was a comfort to me, fresh air, organic food, I listed in myself all the positive things that I remembered at that moment.

The promised financial aid from my father did not come in the amount that was said, which contributed to me being in debt, since the beginning of my working life I have not been in debt to anyone, it was terribly difficult for me, plus the fact that a promise broken by my own father on whom I strongly counted. But that financial part doesn't disappoint me as much as his behavior when we decided to visit them, he tried to return all the ugly pictures from my childhood.

It is late at night, an inarticulate noise wakes me up from my bed, I get up and feel the cold tiles of the corridor under my feet, my father shouts at my mother, they have just returned from the neighbor's wedding and he is visibly drunk, the alcohol mixes with the warm air, it seems to me like and to feel it now. Dreaminess does not allow me to understand what is happening, except for the ringing in my ears of insults addressed to my mother, followed by a slap. Her now deceased father and my uncle appear from somewhere, grab him and push him into the room next to mine, the night is quiet again. That event slept on my chest for a long time. I remember the morning because my mom asked me if I wanted to see him, and I didn't know what to answer except to quietly enter the room and watch him in the room filled with the smell of brandy, lying with a bandage on his forehead.

This time, he almost repeated that scene by slapping my mother mouth while she was smoking and called her name, this time I understood it well, our relationship was broken, this time I couldn't close my eyes, I was too grown up and discussed.

We haven't spoke since then, and I do not regret.

In the morning we headed back, in the meantime he managed to raise his voice at his brother-in-law for no reason, which also contributed to my contempt for him as he addresses my brother's wife with full respect no matter of hers imperfections.

After moving, I already had to learn to breathe deeply and overcome all new unknown situations, adapting to life with my mother-in-law, with whom I had no problems, but I felt them in the relationship with her younger son, and my partner, I tried to remain neutral and I don't poke my nose where it doesn't belong, even though it hurt me even more, because no matter how much we ourselves had disagreements, behind it there is also a no easier life story about a failed marriage and broken happiness, I understood that and wholeheartedly tried to wake him up from the deep sleep he indulged in long ago, I saw in him the potential of the happy man he once was.

On the other hand, as it usually happens, people tend to have constant expectations, to want to be satisfied at any cost, and that the only correct way of living is the way they see it. The generation gap started to get bigger, he was visibly tired of everything, no less lost than me - he was withdrawing from everything and everyone. The sequence of events is that we will bite each other and fight out of nervousness and feelings of helplessness.

Spring is on the sight....

We spend most of our time outside, the garden is heavily planted, we expect new sprouts, we sit on the stone wall while drinking coffee and comfort each other with plans and new ideas. We tell each other that we will succeed, we look at what we have done so far and where progress is visible, we find small things that will keep us enthusiastic. We have already adapted a lot to having no money and living in peace with what we have, although it is anything but enough, aware that the bills are due every month, and there is no work in sight. We put our cameras on our shoulders and walk to the nearby lake to watch birds and look for mushrooms, the fields have turned green, everything is slowly coming to life, tractors can be heard working tirelessly, everyone is waking up.

My friends occasionally ask me how I'm doing, if I've adjusted, and I lie, I lie that everything is fine and that I'm feeling great. I lie, and I hate doing it, but what can I tell them?

Over time, I also stopped contacting them because I became ashamed, withdrawing into myself and dragging myself among the garden rows had already taken off, digging in the ground, planting and transplanting became my daily therapy, because when you are physically and mentally tired, you will be too much tired of overthinking anything and falling down rabbit holes. The car was already starting to break down, so we did the shopping in town by bicycle, I liked the effort even though the days were still quite cold and windy.

Easter was approaching and the youngest member was supposed to join us during the holidays, I still hadn't had the chance to meet him, and he was also my biggest fear. Will he accept me, how will he react, because I am a foreign body in a well-known house to him.

I just breathed, deeply, as deeply as I could. My mother-in-law's sentence disturbed it "he won't accept you, I know him."She said it with such certainty, and my confidence began to crumble. The closer that day got, the more nervous and insecure I was.

Why did she have to tell me in such a way, maybe it was better to just keep quiet and let things take their course. But that day certainly dawned, we rode our bikes to the bus station that afternoon because he was just arriving, my palms were sweaty, we said goodbye, he smiled and, as nature finds, dedicated himself to his father, I walked beside them more rather satisfied with how everything went. A smile says something, doesn't it? At least he didn't greet me with a frown.

The way back was spent in a race with the bus in which we previously placed him, we arrived home almost at the same time. He is still a child, that's how I see him, he seems happy as he chats with his father and tries to show him how strong he is and now he's grown up, he clearly misses it. I try not to interrupt them too much and find an occupation for myself, I try to be inconspicuous. At that time, the mother-in-law tries to demonstrate her territoriality, takes over the preparation of his breakfast, prepares his lunch and it is noticeable that she wants to distance herself, I withdraw again.

By the way, the kid is a real talker and knows everything, during the day he stayed in our room, playing chess with his father while I worked on a project for which I was hired by old clients, that project came to me at the right moment. From that couple, we drove the car to a nearby town, just long enough to move it out of the house and do some holiday shopping on the way. On the way back, the car won't start and we leave it in the parking lot in front of the market, it starts to rain, after an unsuccessful attempt to find someone who has cables, we take a taxi and drive home.

Good Friday is the last day of final preparations for Easter, after last night's rude call from his mother who is visibly upset by the fact that her ex has someone and is happy, she takes out all her anger on the child who just wanted to brag about how nice his day was. Sadly, his mood visibly changed, followed by her frantic calls and insane demands for money, with the threat of not taking the child back unless the money was sent.

It was already dark, I was trying to take a photo of the painted Easter eggs when the sound of the door opening loudly broke behind me, I didn't pay attention to who entered until I heard my mother-in-law say her name.

Where did she come from? How did she? I found myself in frozen state, all I was able to do is grabbing the crystal bowl with eggs, camera was still hanging around my neck, pulling myself in the corner of the kitchen and observing. The house was filled with rage and screaming, she stood by the sink visibly upset, howling that she had nothing to eat! My eyes searched for any sharp objects near her, luckily there were none. I was still standing in total confusion about what is happening, next scene is followed by kicking her out of the house and a series of provocations to hit her, she provoked him to violence.

So insidious, because she had already reported him once in her fit of rage for the same non-existent violence. I automatically mix sugar with water and give it to my mother-in-law, who is a heart patient, and I fear that she will pass out from the sudden stress. Having no idea what's going on outside, it's raining heavily, the little one has gone for a walk somewhere, I'm torn between following him and taking him in another direction until everything calms down, at that moment I hear a glass crack and I run out of the house.

I stand and watch a woman who experienced a total blackout, threw a brick at him, missed and broke the window. I try to approach her, to talk to her, to calm her down, she doesn't allow, she doesn't hear, she is a machine that destroys, she walks like that, she talks like that. I approach him and feel him shaking, that feeling made me go back to the house and call the police, I never dialed that number in my life, I couldn't even remember it, my hands are shaking and my fingers are trying to find the number on the phone screen. Finally, someone picks up the phone on the other side and demands that I tell him the story, I say that I don't have time and that the situation is alarming, that someone needs to come immediately.

I am sitting in the room on the sofa under the window, staring at one point and trying to listen to what is happening outside, she is still on the street. I hear that the little one has come and that she is explaining to him how without money he can't return home, it hurts, it hurts me, and I can't imagine what it must be like for him to listen to what his own mother says to his face. Rotations break the darkness, the police have arrived. I find the little one sitting in the yard with a hood on his head, looking at the floor, and from that moment I knew that nothing would be the same again.

She was taken into custody with handcuffs, another car came to pick us up, we welcomed Easter together at the police station. We attached her previous messages to the inspector, listened to everything they had to say and finally concluded that the inspector was one of the people we asked for help in the parking lot in front of the market.

We arrived home around 2 a.m., and we didn't sleep until dawn. We were trying to process what happened. The next day, you can guess what the atmosphere was like in the house. Although we tried to make a joke out of everything, deep down we were all shaken.

She was granted a 30-day restraining order, and we have the possibility of filing a criminal complaint.

It took us the next month to fully sober up from the event, the little one definitely returned home regardless of the fact that he didn't take the money with him. I still understood her, as a woman, I know what pain means, I know what helplessness means, but such a move towards a child was extremely insensitive when it comes to a mother, I have no excuse for that.

May passed its course, I celebrated my birthday very modestly with the three of us, we made a small barbecue and I bought a couple of cakes. I didn't celebrate, but I missed my dear people with whom I would traditionally organize a picnic.

And then there was a chance to go to Switzerland, dad's mom is in bad health and needed care, for now her children took turns taking care of her, but the daughter gave up at some point, then they thought of me. When I was still working on a project that was certainly not going smoothly, new changes, new ideas, new ideas from people who didn't even know the subject of video editing were constantly popping up, and it was already becoming exhausting. On the other hand, they were pushing me to get on my way to Switzerland as soon as possible, I was inhaling daily pressure from all sides. There was also dissatisfaction in the house because of our financial situation, even though we were working like donkeys in the garden on a daily basis, it seemed as if nothing was enough anymore.

We were both sinking, mentally and physically, pulling away from each other.

I wanted to go home and hug my mother, I had a strong need to apologize to her for all the misunderstandings I had ever caused her, because I caught myself during those few months living a piece of her life, my dry, chapped hands reminded me of hers, dirt packed under my nails that I used to be ashamed of even as a child, I felt a deep pang of conscience because I condemned her for not having done better, not knowing that she was doing the best she could at the time.

I couldn't, the trip was too expensive and every time I collected money something would come up.

The frustration started rising in me. Every day I became quieter, more stuck in my head, I started to sink and all that was left of me was anger. The trip to Switzerland failed, they couldn't wait for me for 3 days, I only needed three days to finish the project and finally send it, they didn't even deign to inform me, but I found out about it from my mom.

I broke off all ties with my father's mother as well, without a shred of remorse.

The fruits are ripening and we are finally harvesting our work, four little kittens are running around the yard, they are my greatest source of joy, I absorb their carefreeness. The sun is burning mercilessly all day, we have a guest announced, my mother-in-law's sister. I know almost nothing about her, except that she regularly greets me by phone. I always have that mild panic attack when I meet new people, especially those whose territory I've entered so to speak.

I'm in my room and I'm teaching the German class I'm teaching, I hear that she's arrived, even though she's a complete stranger to me, I'm looking forward to it, there's nothing wrong with meeting new people, especially when it comes to family members. By then, my mother-in-law's behavior had visibly changed, her resentment and passive desire to manage everything was noticeable, and I was still withdrawn.

I leave the house and head towards the garden where his aunt and he are, he explains to her what we planted, what we have already harvested, she gives me her hand, I'm introducing myself. A woman with a thin body and gray hair spills not so funny comment about how he doesn't eve know where is what, that wasn't funny to me, as we both were breaking our backs on this ground. For the next few days, the two of us no longer asked about anything in the house, his aunt mostly talks only about herself, totally uninterested in finding out anything about the others, but I attributed that to the fact that she lives alone and is eager to explain herself.

That's how it is with older people. I am still filled with sadness and nostalgia, it has been half a year since I visited my mother. There is no will left for anything but to sit and stare into space, waiting for my time to pass. we no longer make plans about anything, we no longer feel free to be in the house, except for our room the rest is occupied and palpably unpleasant. The bites of food we didn't buy are counted.

I finally manage to collect the money and travel home, the very departure was preceded by an argument, but I certainly went regardless of everything, I wanted to lie down in my bed, I wanted to be carefree for a moment, I wanted someone to look after me for a moment, I wanted someone who was piece of me, yes I had an strongly urge for my mother even tho I couldn't tell her everything.

I felt relief after leaving the yard. The journey was long and tiring, I fell asleep quite early, that's how I woke up, there were only the two of us in the house. We drank coffee, mostly in silence because I'm not a grumbler in the morning, I helped her tidy up her garden together, I liked it even though she objected to me doing anything, she strictly demanded that I rest as if she knew how exhausted and overworked I was, but I didn't let her, knowing that she herself was just as exhausted and tired.

It's early in the morning and I'm woken up by shouting, unfamiliar voices, my nervous system is so weak that I get irritated easily, I go out into the yard and ask who and why is shouting so much, sister-in-law, she explains to me that the masters have come. I ask her to draw their attention to the unnecessary noise they are making, I know they do, but they don't need to be shouting their nonsensical jokes across the yard at 6 in the morning.

And then my brother appears on the stage, the brother I never had, with the awkward phrase "leave if it bothers you" followed by a finger pointed at the gate. I broke down, did he just kick me out of the house? The house that we both suffered to build as children? I started shaking, tears started to flow uncontrollably. Although aware of the fact that he never loved me, I did not expect something like this.

My mother was at work, and I spent the next hours crying and trying to understand what just happened, I didn't eat, I couldn't. I called my mom just to tell her that I was leaving today and that I would never cross the threshold here again.

I was sick, all the scenes of him beating me, when he took things from me and gave them to others, when he didn't want to let me play with him, I was sick of his unreasonable jealousy that he had treated me all my life, and I didn't take anything from him, on the contrary, he was one of the reasons why I left this house as a child.

On the same day, I received a call from dear darling, who had a similar scene with his brother, and then he told me about the conversation with his aunt who told him that I was not the best woman for him.

Another drop in the overflowing glass. On the same day, I traveled back, he waited for me upon my return, but there was no mood between us, apart from the negative events, we didn't have much to say to each other.

The way back was even more difficult than leaving, I was dragging three frozen chickens with me in my suitcase, which my mother insisted I bring, making sure I had something to eat. I inhaled the negative atmosphere from the door, everything was so toxic and unbearable, we had the impression that everyone turned against us, and we had no other way out but to stay where we are. I totally withdrew, drawn deep into myself, communicating only the most basic with others.

I wanted to leave, I just want to leave here because I didn't see the purpose of staying.

Towards the end of the summer after an unpleasant holiday spent with the little one, the consequences of what his mother had caused were visible, and this time he made it clear to me that he did not accept me.

I was in so much pain that the pain turned into physical one, soon I found myself completely lost. The mother-in-law traveled away and we finally got a break, we finally could speak instead of whispering.

I started streaming again, the only source of money I could use now was that. I made it my mission to work as hard as I could, save money for the rent and move out. That's how it was, I borrowed the rest of the money we needed and we soon returned to the city.

I continued to stream, but the consequences of everything were slowly catching up with me, I needed help, I felt weak and could no longer take on much of the responsibility.

At the beginning of December, my friend invited me to her birthday, by the way she lives in Macedonia, at the same time the hotel where the celebration was scheduled needed a photographer, they had almost co-opened the facility and they needed photos of the interior. I was so happy about that, of course I borrowed money again for the trip, knowing that I would be able to pay it back upon my return, however...on the day of the photo shoot, they changed their minds.

As they told me, they were not ready, what a slap in the face.

I pushed through the night in the best mood, because I didn't want to spoil the evening for my friend, but the next day after waking up, I returned to reality with one more debt.

After returning home, I fell ill, and it lasted for almost two weeks, I was prevented from working, I was depressed, scared, I started crying every day, the state of helplessness took hold of me.

I can't take it anymore, I said through a sob. What can't you do? I can't live this way anymore, I have no life, I feel completely lost, I dont know what I am doing anymore, all I can feel is rage, I am full of rage! Total confusion is in my head, I just can't care about the everything anymore, to think about everything, all this has eaten me up. I don't even know who I am anymore, all of this has become so difficult that I'm questioning whether I'm in the right place. Stop working, I see you don't like it anymore, its destroying you. What will we live on? We'll manage, I'll do something, whatever.

I knew very well that I could no longer do the work that I did with ease in my twenties, but it was the only thing available that would put food on us and pay the bills. The fact is that I fell, lost a good part of myself, killed my creativity trying to survive.. I'm aware that I've taken too much on my back, I'm trying to help my loved ones, but I can't anymore, this agony must end, otherwise I'll be lost without a return ticket, and then surely no one will be able to help me.....

The final news is that my mom has to have an operation, I got it today, it means that for her sake I will cross the threshold that I promised I wouldn't, but for her I would do anything, because she knows best what it's like to be alone while surrounded by others.

I doubt that anyone will read this small novel about a tiny fragment of my life that is intertwined with something long ago, but that is not my intention as much as perhaps I want this to remain permanently recorded somewhere.

Hope dies last.

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