A warning in advance to the faint of stomach, those wise and jaded souls who have had their fill of romantic comedies – you who see couples bundled up for the winter, holding mittened hands on the street and can only think one thought (namely, “Ew. Go be happy somewhere else.”), this is a love letter. Apologies for my non-apologies, but I’ve lost my heart you see, played right into the most cliched of comedies.
ACT I: girl meets public transportation system.
It’s true, I’ve loved before. The New York subways are just as lovable as they are unsanitary. The ability to read a metro map (in secret because real New Yorkers don’t need them) is a life accomplishment. The carefully cultivated attitude of apathy and mild distain for your fellow passengers is something to be proud of, yes, definitely. But (I say of my own free will and in a state of supposed full sanity) there’s nothing quite like a night tram in Prague. There’s nothing that matches the dramatic interlude of a ride home through the dusky, winding streets of the strangest city I’ve ever been in. Let me explain:
Rides begin with the passion and emotional energy invested in reading the maps and timetables to discern beyond a shadow of a doubt that you’re stepping on the right one, followed by hesitation as you check the map on the inside, and finally the whole body sigh of deepest relief. Your figure slumps comfortably in your wooden seat and suddenly it fits the shape of your spine perfectly. You smile sleepily at the man in the plaid wool coat sitting next to you. He looks away quickly because he thinks you are insane, but you don’t mind! You’re homeward bound after a long night of strenuous merry making. You deserve this.
So you let your eyes blur, alternate between staring out at the city that stretches around you through the smudgy glass and at the people with whom you share this warm interior moment (thankfully the man next to you has left so you don’t freak him out anymore). Everything is perfect as the skyline fills with spires and city lights, and the couples going home say secret things to each other (secret mostly because you still don’t speak Czech after four months of Czech classes, but still). All is well. All is lovely. So you think.
ACT II: girl loses (herself in) public transportation system.
You’re dumb. Yup, you did, you fell asleep and you’re alone in the car in an unknown location in the deepest, most random suburbs of Prague and the driver is telling you to get off. It’s the end of the line! It’s the end of the line and you have no idea where you are and you’re dumb. You frantically check your purse and pockets and thankfully, against all odds, you’re still in possession of your wallet and phone, but how in the name of all things holy did you get to be this dumb? You don’t remember hitting your head and watching all your smarts or marbles or whatever fall out, so how?
But there’s no time to answer the question, only to collect your little remaining dignity and put all you’ve got into a small pitiful almost-wave to the tram driver (a round faced woman who could not look more bored of your state of idiocy) as you step out into the night. Why have the trams forsaken you? What have you ever done but love them? You ask as you shake your fists at the sky and wallow in your own flair for melodrama. It’s quite fun actually, to be so dramatic. You consider sinking down to your knees and letting out a little howl. No ones watching, you could totally howl, express your despair and hate of this moment. Why not howl?
But instead you think of all the things that you love about Prague – how all your favorite moments abroad have been ones where you’ve been lost, wandered into a potion shop or asked directions from a monk. The trams have done a lot for you, taken you to the castle, to the famously hated tv tower covered in statues of babies with barcodes for faces, to ikea.
So you find you have it in your heart to forgive after all. And ACT III, where girl gets public transportation system back, can begin. So you look at the map, get on the next tram and go home. The man sitting next to you was right. You are pretty crazy. Prague has made you pretty crazy (crazy busy and crazy thrilled and crazy in love). It’s a nice kind of insane. Still, no one has to know unless you’re crazy enough to tell them on the internet or something. But who would do that?