Jitka vs. expats

I’ve been feeling really slack lately, hence the big gap between updates. I’d like to say it’s the change of season, but I normally tend to perk up physically, mentally and spiritually come autumn, so that can’t be it. My workload has not exactly been light, but it’s nothing I can’t handle, so stress is not a factor. I’ve spent a lot of time working on the flat – painting, cleaning and rearranging, but that hasn’t been all that taxing either. I spent most of last week drinking too much, toking and smoking too much, killing too much time in bars, and watching too many movies, but I more or less caught up on all my sleep over the weekend. So I’m not sure why I find myself struggling to resurface from the murky depths of a dreamless sleep – even as I type this I’m propped up (somewhat uncomfortably) in my sofa bed, envying Mikesh as he snoozes the day away beside me.

Jitka got back on Saturday. She looks and seems very California – lightly tanned and bubbly. High after a rather chaotic trip back (during the LA-Zurich leg of her trip her plane went through what sounded like 45 minutes of very rough turbulence, during which her fellow passengers were puking, crying and praying), Jitka talked non-stop from the airport to Blackbridge – believe me, that’s a lot of talking.

One of the things she said was that after spending a month in the States, her opinion about Americans had changed. She now digs Americans – at least those who live in America. “Everyone was so friendly there, not like most of the Americans living in Prague,” she said.

Despite the fact that she’s going to marry one, Jitka’s got issues with English-speaking expats. Not just Americans, but all expats. And I can’t say I blame her. Whenever we go to expat bars or functions together, they ignore her, patronize her, or are downright rude to her. Of course there are exceptions, and those exceptions have proven to be very good friends to both of us.

I’ve never been able to understand why many expats take this attitude with Jitka. Perhaps it has something to do with linguistic or cultural barriers. Maybe it’s because she has a very strong personality, though she’s never been anything but sweet whenever she’s talking with foreigners.

Whatever the reason, one thing that the aforementioned exceptions have in common (well, with one exception) is this: they have their shit together. They’re happy living in Prague, they’re not running away from their problems, and they’re not force-feeding the life-sized chips on their shoulders with booze and drugs, and/or devoting their waking hours to bitching on expat bulletin boards.

Maybe that sounds high-and-mighty on my part. So be it, though I hope that readers who know me know me well enough to know that I’ve never been one to generalise (sorry for the ugly sentence, but I can’t think of another way to put that).

Anyway, I’ve been through the shit myself. It took moving to Prague, of all places, to get out of it. Maybe someday I’ll share all that here, but not today.

Illuminating the obvious: no matter how far you try to run from your problems, they will always catch up with you and drag you back to wherever it is you came from. You can cut off all ties in your native land, drink yourself into a stupor seven days a week, pop and drop and toke and snort and inject with the same frequency, sleep around, sleep it off, talk a big game, dig a bigger hole, wallow, whinge, lie your ass off, and maybe even shine every now and again.

But, let’s face it, we can’t all be Iggy Pop, and those problems you’ve been running from will catch up, this time with sharper claws, bigger teeth, mightier roars and a fiercer pull, and they will drag you down even further than you thought you were.

To be honest, I’m not sure if there’s a connection between what I just wrote and the feelings that Jitka harbours towards most expats. In any case, I’m somewhat of an outsider on both sides, and I’m pretty content to keep things the way they are – it just seems healthy to keep these two aspects of my life separate.

Sep 19, 10:40 (Filed under: Personal )

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  1. We should really get together for a beer some time… Let me know if you are ever around Smichov (Andel is on your line!) and I’ll take you to Lokalblok for a couple. We’ve probably crossed paths over the years just never actually met.

    Mike    Sep 20, 09:18    #