Ayurvedic massage–in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia! A country that did not even exist on the little globe I owned as a child. I’d spin that globe with my finger and think, Someday I will go see that place and that place. Never dreamed the world was about to invent new places right in my lifetime!
It was just a train ride away last summer from the overblown architecture and baroque sculptural flourishes of Vienna (a few days of that overly ornamented city made me feel both empty and full, a little like someone who has eaten no proper meal and too much dessert). Bratislava offered its challenges. There was the taxi ride that sputtered into engine failure. The city center, though, proved to be a fascinating mashup of contradictions. It made me aware of something about myself. I seem to have this instinct in me to look for things that don’t fit. The manhole sculpture, the steampunk dinosaur in the sidewalk. Strangeness in the middle of the ordinary. Exceptions to rules.
As I grope for the right voice for a nonfiction work in progress, as I try to sustain that voice through 120-ish pages, I find myself remembering Bratislava. Sometimes dissonance creates greater interest than overly polished, perfected harmony.