Puzzle #4. Burgers after school

The deep talking you don’t expect. On traumas, how to talk about them over dinner, and the truly abnormal sweetness of Coca Cola Zero. 


20 Nov 2019. Yes, just as the last one, this post came to mind after Czech class. Wednesdays are productive. I went out for dinner with friends and, when I was almost home, the thought took shape in my head. This time, though, there is no alcohol involved, only two small bottles of Coca Cola Zero, which, with hindsight:
1) was a very bad idea, because it’s disgustingly sweet (I never drink Coke anyway, what was I thinking?)
2) resulted in a minor sugar rush, which possibly triggered the flow of high-sugar (read: unconventionally tipsy) thoughts.

Our bunch of five met up at a burger place – and a very good one, though a whole brick of tofu stuffed in the middle of the burger is a lot to digest!

Halfway through ordering food, this good friend of mine started, almost casually but super effectively, ‘psychoanalysing’ my life. I’m talking deep stuff, not just the odd one or two questions about your life and childhood. She’s really good at that, she knows where to aim. She mentioned we would end up talking about traumas.

(Needless to say, if I’d known the evening would go down that road, I’d have ordered beers. As I said, I had this conversation over Coke after a highly intense Czech class centred on the 17 November celebrations and conditional sentences. Imagine the hype. Alcohol is preferable, obviously.)

It was more like an open, friendly talk than an actual psychoanalysis session. It felt a bit like painting. The painter has got an idea in their head, and it’s clear and sharp, but everything else is still in its potential state.

So the painter is going to have to project that idea onto a canvas, a wooden table, a wall, or whichever surface they choose. That is how the potential becomes real, how the painter gets to see for real whether the meaningful idea in their head retains its meaning, requires some more or less drastic adjustment, or just doesn’t make sense at all.

That’s what it felt like. And as the questions came, I realised that it was okay, that some good honest talking about myself would not harm me. So I kept answering. The more I answered, the more it made sense.

So then, on my way home, I thought back to the whole conversation. I realised I ended up sharing bits and pieces of my persona I usually keep to myself. And yet I did not feel deprived, or stripped bare of my own thoughts. I didn’t regret sharing what, for once, I’d shared.

I thought that we all experience traumas, get lost in the woods, end up standing at junctions with a thousand roads all around us.

And I thought that trauma comes in all shapes and colours, and it’s often connected with fear. When our fears become true, trauma ensues. And it weighs on us, it dents bits and pieces of our persona, and we feel like we cannot move.

But we get through. We take one step (the toughest of all), then another one, then another one, and we make it. Our body will retain the imprint of it all (body memory is the most powerful thing I can think of), and we might have to let go of things along the way, but we do make it through. We start moving again.

If something happens to us, it means we are able to cope with it. Sometimes we can make it by ourselves, and sometimes we have to be painters, and let it out, think it out loud, see what it looks like from the outside. It may not be a solution, but it may be the beginning of one.

As I trotted down Úvoz on my way home, I ran into a young bloke zigzagging downhill across the pavement. He could easily have been an Erasmus student on the way back from a pub crawl or a heavy drinking session at friends’. He was visibly inebriated (read: blind drunk). Suddenly and without warning, he swerved to the left and crossed the street with striking gallantry, oblivious to the fact that there might be cars driving past.

He was lucky, the road was empty.

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