Sky is turning red as I’m peeking through the window in my coupe. I am going home for Christmas. Fifty! Fifty-one! Mister, sixty four is further down! People are walking with their heavy baggage, looking for their seats, checking their reservation tickets. They are rushing as if it’s a guarantee for a faster arrival home.
Christmas music is bursting through speakers. It is the first time I hear music playing in a train and I’m waiting for the hidden camera to reveal itself! I’ve been traveling for years in Croatian trains and could write a book solely about it. Trains in Croatia are slow, rarely on time and you’re lucky if you find a seat during the rush hour or don’t end up stuck in the snow.
Obviously this is not a scenario in my train, as Mariah Carey is singing “All I want for Christmas is you”. A girl across me is anxious to get home. “I don’t feel Christmas here in Zagreb”, she says. “Christmas is home”. I wonder, how come she feels that way when every store, every street and every shiny lamp in Zagreb reminds you of Christmas. I am kind of a jealous at her. In a dreamy haze, she is so sure of her home. Lucky her! Don’t get me wrong. I am on my way to see my family and I couldn’t be happier. But I don’t call a place where my family lives, a home. It is a place where my family lives. A nice city with a beautiful park where I’m walking and having long talks with my dad and our golden retriever.
We are finally moving. I hope everyone reached their place. In a slowly moving train I don’t even want to look at it. We have one week left and I’m not ready to say goodbye just yet. I am coming back after five days just to leave Zagreb again.
Is everyone happy to go home, I wonder. It is, after all, a Christmas Eve. Christmas tree is waiting for me to be decorated. My mom is preparing cookies. She sounded very merry on the phone. My golden Goldie is sleeping under the table, waiting for some snacks to accidentally fall off. And my dad will be waiting for me at the station. They are probably drinking coffee now.
And here I am. In a moving train, trying not to fall asleep, listening to lyrics:
“So this is Christmas, what have you done?”
What have I done? In less than a month I will be kilometres away from anything familiar. From my friends and family. From my golden. I will be roaming free. Is this my last Christmas in Croatia? Is this my last year ever in Croatia?
Did I make a good decision when I decided to reclaim my heart? Will I miss them? Will I be homesick?
I am in a search of something. I know that. But I am not sure of anything. I have no plans. I don’t have answers for my curious friends and relatives. All that I do know is that I’ve been waiting too long to be lost in the unknown.
I want to allow my soul to grow. I want to do what I want to do and not what is expected of me. The thrill of the unknown life is awakening me. I want to light my own fire and feel good.
It’s getting warmer. I hear laughter a few coupes back. We are passing through the houses decorated in thousands of colorful lights. The girl across sleeps wrapped in her shawl.
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year”, Andy Williams sings. The moon is shining on the other side of the glass. I feel as in Polar Express, only we are not presents to be delivered though I have a feeling the train “spits” travelers until it ensures that everyone is at home for Christmas.
I have to go now. My family is wating for me. They know I am in a search of a home. I will always have a home within them but they understand I need to find my own place. My own pack. And I will carry this feeling of home they grew inside od me wherever I go.
Zagreb, see you soon! New lands? I’ll be completely yours in a few weeks. Tomorrow I’ll make plans for the future, but now it is time to be a kid again.
We are approaching the station. I don’t see him but can feel him waiting. He is always there. My dad never misses. Goldie is at home “cooking” with mom. The tree is waiting. There is nothing in the world as a family. And wherever you go, home is a family.