Back to the Land of Enchantment

Charles Bridge
Near the entrance to Charles Bridge

Six months ago I left Prague and returned to New Mexico. It's been 10 months since my last blog post.  Since that last post, I've had an odyssey of experiences and profound introspection.  It was about the 6-month mark when I started to question my future in Prague.  Up until that point, it was my place.  When people asked me how long I was there for, my response was always “forever.” And, I sincerely believed that.

Then at some point, the questioning started; What am I doing?  Is this really my place?

How am I going to support myself? The ideas to generate new streams of income weren’t working out and my savings and residual income were starting to dwindle.

I wasn’t finding a way forward.

View from my apartment balcony

Am I really happy living in an apartment?  I started to have this feeling like I just wasn’t grounded, then there was the realization -- "Oh, well I am actually living 5 stories above the ground." Beyond just having the feeling, I literally wasn't grounded.

Then I started to miss family and friends.  Six months earlier, I couldn’t wait to get away from all of them.

A little New Mexico in Prague, a gift from my visiting friends

Then, it happened, I started to miss New Mexico.  The first thing I missed was the high desert light and landscape of the Taos area.  I missed working on my property.   Then, I started to miss my old routine.  I missed being on the move.  I was actually starting to feel a little claustrophobic in Prague.  When the days started getting shorter and the greyness of pre-winter started to settle in I think I was even experiencing mild bouts of depression - something I’ve never experienced before.

The Land of Enchantment

I had these moments of clarity and then also moments of complete confusion.

The one thing that I was not confused about though, in spite of any confusion, is that I was having the time of my life.  I’ve never had the experience of going into a club or bar and then coming out when the sun was actually rising.  This started to be a regular occurrence.

Hitting the town with the crazy Slovaks

Then the seemingly never ending opportunities for fun and social engagement were starting to take their toll.   I started to realize that I wasn’t going to evolve here.  Prague is a city of perpetual temptation.  Whatever your vice is, Prague will find it and bring it out.  Those were actually the words of a friend of mine who once lived there.  She told me this before my move.  Well, here I was 8 months after that conversation, experiencing those words first hand.  This was starting to become a problem…

My sister Kat, in Prague!

My sister and some friends came to visit in November.  I finally had someone who really knew me that I could talk to about what I was going through.  Little by little, it started to become clear.  It was time to go home.

One night I was sitting in a pub with some friends and my phone rang; it was a friend back in the states calling.  Anytime I would get a call from the U.S., my first thought was always, "What’s wrong?"  Of course, there was never anything wrong.  However, this time, I knew there was. My father had an accident.  He’s a carpenter and lost some fingers while cutting wood on his table saw.  I remember him using that saw from when I was about 10 years old; he’s been using it that long, and in an instant of carelessness, it happened.  The fingers he lost were on his right hand, his dominant hand.  The nurse said to him, “It’s never the new guys.”

About a week before this, I had decided to move back.  This confirmed my plans.  It’s not like my dad needed me, he would be fine.  However, I knew this would be a new chapter for him, and for me.  It was a chapter that I needed to be around for.

The morning of my birthday, November 3rd, I got up early and went to Charles Castle to watch the sun rise over Prague
Band practice, in a Czech garage !

So, I started the process of unwinding the life that I was creating.  I started to notify my friends, landlord, people back home.  I started to sell the few possessions that I had acquired but would not be bringing back with me.  It was all bitter sweet.  This was my home.  I had created a routine. People recognized me on the street and in the market.  I had joined a band.  I had created a beautiful community of friends from literally all over the world.  Before I left, I had a going away party and there were about 25 people there from at least 8 different countries, and those were the ones who could make it.

My Slovak beer buds meeting my American beer buds
I was the guest of honor in the home of a Slovak family in the town of Levice. Being the guest of honor involved being fed 3 large shots of hundred proof moonshine.........for breakfast!
My Czech friend Jiri, helping me the learn the very difficult Czech language.
My Czech friend Marta brought me to the St. Cyril church, the site of a harrowing scene during World War II when 7 Czech undercover soldiers held off dozens of SS troopers for more than 6 hours. This event was featured in the movie Anthropoid about the assassination of German General Reinhard Heydrich in Prague in 1942.
Jack, was my British band leader. He's an encyclopedia of Rock and Roll history and kills it on the guitar!
My good Romanian friend, Iona
Martin, wearing his gift from the Land of Enchantment.
My bags are packed, I'm ready to go.....

I went to Prague to gain something.  I wasn’t sure what it was.  I knew that whatever it was, I couldn’t get it in my home, New Mexico.  I had to go on my walk about, I had to thrust myself into the unknown.  The unknown of moving into everything new and the unknown of letting go of everything  familiar.  I started a new chapter of growing and maturing.  I had to go through profound loneliness, joy, and ecstasy.  I had to fill my soul with the medieval, Slavic energy that is familiar to my Northern European DNA.  This was a beautiful chapter, and it was now coming to an end.  I got what I came for.   And the thing I would finally get was........

New Mexico.

The place that has been my home my entire adult life is now in fact my home.  I’m here.  I’m not here wishing I was someplace else.  I’m not here planning on moving again.  This is it. I can invest myself and pour my heart and soul into this place.  Even with all its imperfections, I embrace it. I even got a ZIA tattoo while I was in Prague.  When I walked out of the tattoo shop, I felt like it had always been there.  My grounding and connection to New Mexico.

The most beautiful part of this chapter of my life was no doubt the friendships that I created.

My great Slovak friends, Martin, Michal, & Andrej...saying goodbye at the Prague train station.

I’m committed to keeping those friendships alive.

Now, with a greater maturity and awareness, I’m creating the next chapter.  After living in a small apartment, I’m satisfied with less and have a new relationship with simplicity.

It has taken me almost 6 months, but I’m feeling in my skin again. I’m connecting with new friends and reconnecting with long-time friends. New photography opportunities are showing up without effort.  The creative juices are flowing and I’m getting inspired for some photo projects ideas around the Land of Enchantment, so...stay tuned.

I’ll hit the road again at some point.  But it won’t be to move, it will be to go on adventures to explore this magnificent world, knowing that I’ll always come back home…

to New Mexico.

This photo was taken a couple months after I got home. It was a magical night with friends, watching the sun set over the Chama River, then gathering around a fire in a small adobe home listening to story tellers recreate centuries old folk stories from Eastern Europe/Siberia regions. Great to be back in the Land of Enchantment.