I think about that perfect Aryan Gerber baby face on Johannes or is it Fabian? We all met near the Nile on a long vacation by the Dead Sea that was officially something called “Study Abroad.” The sun setting on the Mediterranean as we gasped for air and salt and sweat and everything we could devour in that crystalline moment by the sea. Fabian and I ate burgers, juicy and dripping in Jerusalem. Johannes visited my dorm room in Massachusetts and sent all the girls giggling as he emerged from the shower taut, bronzed, and virile. A few months after, he got engulfed by a monster who pretended she had cancer in order for him not to leave her. He left, encircled, came back to her like cancer and told me we couldn’t speak anymore.
Memo: Work on writing in omniscient narrator.
Whilst searching for elves back in Elvetown upon landing, I took a detour in Malostranska (small country) before heading back to my lair in Prague 6. Sufficiently light headed and curious my aimless steps spiraled the pastel hues of the hills. After a chance encounter with Baba Yaga, I stumbled upon Kafka by the Vltava. I asked if they ever fucked. After a long silence, Kafka nodded. He was wearing black ripped skinny jeans and had an extremely rare haircut that featured shorter hair on the sides with a topping of longer bouffant hair in the middle that mysteriously sashayed over his left eye in a manner in which he would have to constantly run his fingers through it as to protect his eyeball. He looked like an existential skunk and I was into it. He suggested we visit an old boat from his youth: the infamous U Bukanyr. This relic of faintly drawn, bluish tinted women on shiny glass china was revamped into a scallywag neon lit dungeon. The techno beat vibrated off of the carpet flooring and the 6’5” blonde Czech hockey player standing behind me who had a meaty aesthetic of cocaine. Kafka’s mustache was giving me a faint memory of other mustaches: Nietzsche, young Stalin, whiskers of a cockroach, my father, Schopenhauer… He bought me two shots of Becherovka, liquor distilled from purple plums picked in the forest.
“You have nice legs.” He sauntered. I was taken aback by his old world charm.
“You remind me of my ex—Milena…”
As dawn encroached, Kafka carried me on his back through a foggy and vacant Prague. We said hello to ghouls and golems of his past lurking in the narrow streets and spires. I could only think of the army tanks on cobblestones. The vacant city’s periwinkle and pink baroque buildings screeched underneath their layers of paint. The insipid concrete underneath smiled through the cracks in the walls. The paint-like makeup, caked and strained, the pastels waned like bleeding watercolors into soot. From a crevice, a line of Russian dolls marched out into the street in a descending linear order. The glossy red of their bodies, the decadence of the yellow, blue and green flowers on their shawls filled me with nostalgia. At once, they halted. All five turned their cylindrical humptys around and stared at me viciously with blank rage. I detected a single drop of blood on the leader’s canine. One, two, and on the caravan dribbledy doo.
“Oh what shadows we carry,” Kafka cried.
May 19, 2011
Once upon a time there was a prince that flew from a six story apartment building in Queens. He flew and grew so much so that he ran off the roof. He had a fervor. He knew. His father said: “I just wanted to run and run. I did that, too, Johnny just ran in the wrong place…” His throne cradled him on the ground. His bones drifted into ribbons, face melted into lavender sands. Beyond, beyond sat an owl on a perch, safekeeping and weeping, the creature exclaimed: “I finally understand opera. It’s heartbreaking.”
None and all of this happened. The New York Times said so on May 18, 2011—Except, ibid. ibid. skull crushed. ibid. ibid. The next day I lit a candle for Johnny at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. The gothic structure is situated adjacent from the popular Hungarian Pastry Shop of Columbia students projecting “Ginsberg” fame. Gargoyles faced the café. I sat in the courtyard by a dried up fountain on the side of the grand cathedral. The sun was eternal that day. Lucid. Its rays were all in all—beams of nothing. Nothingness, blinded and penetrated my skin. I wept. I wept and wept until my organs shriveled and my breath waned and I waded through my own salt. There was a pigeon next to me. And as it flew upwards into the warmth of the sun, I followed its ascent. Raising my jaw for salvation.
May 19, 2016
After some eons, I met a stranger. He was of a different species and caught me unawares. I am in a state of “unawares” and am anxious about relational objects. The relativity of a thing to a thing implies that both of those things are in some way in a relationship. This relationship is unknown but the connectivity of the objects remains a fact. This connectivity is relational. I see you through me and I see me through you but…you have to stay.
Catapulted into the throes of Paris I understood the true meaning of all the postcards I have ever seen. They were all true. But was I even there? There are pictures. So I will conclude I was. Gorging myself on roulettes of meat and fine salmon, the night was young and the “hotel” was a Hitchcockian purgatory. Whilst I was languishing in the Marais, Wellington ate a heaping plate of steak tartar at the table next to me.
“Is that your real name?” I balked.
“I am Sir Wellington, of Michigan,” he announced.
In an hour I was sweating in a bombed out cave turned Jazz hotspot. He bought me a beer as I lurked on the edges of the crowd. The enclave was stuffed, stuffy and smelled equal parts cave and body odor. The space was backlit in an intoxicating red. I scanned the room for men who might approach me with the possibilities of one night in Paris. Instead, Wellington came back and put his clammy hand on my thigh during an interlude. He reminded me of a lizard. Across the table two men were trying to pick up two women that seemed to have no interest in their “bike rental midnight ride” along the Seine proposal. I don’t know how to ride a bike but would have gladly taken up the noble task of a “fell into the Seine” shenanigan. Instead, I marched onwards with Wellington into the night. We roamed the snail of Paris towards the Eiffel Tower. I wanted to know if it was real.
The night before I saw The Louvre and it was real. I wept from my relativity to it. I wept in front of it remembering the sandwiches. I wept for mama’s stolen rings from the KGB and then the ones pawned in Washington Heights. I wept for our first desktop, bought off of papa’s first paychecks from overnights loading luggage at JFK. I wept for the TOEFL that mama just couldn’t seem to pass after six years and little English and two kids and a medical degree. I wept for my father’s suits he used to wear. I wept for Medicare and Medicaid. I wept for dignity. I wept for their youth. I wept for a spatial referential.
The Eiffel Tower was not lit by the time we got there. I could see its looming shadow and structure, so I know it was physically real but not yet theoretically. Wellington and I sat on a bench facing the invisible Tower. He put his arm around me, craned his neck and leaned into my face like a bobbing pigeon. PACKAW. I quickly averted Wellington, who was not hideous per say but definitely clammy. He could’ve been an unpleasant but sacrificial nuisance in order to get a nice bed to sleep on that night—however, something inside me gurgled. I am done.
“But I brought you to the Eiffel Tower?!!” He exclaimed.
“And you got rejected at the Eiffel Tower! I mean, that’s funny no?” I mused, knowing I was going to write about this later.
He walked me back to my “hotel” and I never see him again.
May 19, 2016
I light a candle with you in a cathedral by 38th street after we fucked in a hotel room in midtown. We stumble into an empty mass on a whim to repent our sins. We laugh and laugh and all I can remember is that it was vivid. Too vivid for prose. I was supposed to be leaving in a few days for a few months, chasing places I dreamt and paintings I envisioned and I thought: wait.
December 12, 2016
What happens when his hand holds mine in real life?
Milana Meytes is a second year Draper student. She is thrilled to have had the opportunity to go to Prague on an NYU fellowship to be able to get a piggy back ride from Kafka. That was the only part of her story that was nonfiction. Other than getting drunk with Kafka, Milana studies the intersections between Diaspora, Memory, and Literature in the context of Russian Studies. She is a native New Yorker, but a frequent wanderer, and is thrilled to develop a niche for storytelling and storytellers in NYC upon graduation.