My eyes are closed.
The rhythm of the bus ride is lulling me to sleep. It’s cool on board, which is surprising, considering most places I’ve visited in Kyiv have not had air conditioning. There has been little relief in the 90-degree heat, and I’ve been sleeping in my underwear for days. As someone who typically can’t sleep without something covering her, there have been quite a few restless nights.
I’ve almost drifted off when I feel a knee sink into the back of my seat. My eyes flutter open, and I see two large, hairy arms reaching over me…
I, like many others, have picked up new hobbies during the COVID-19 pandemic. A few of them, such as researching my Ukrainian heritage and learning Ukrainian, have stuck. Others, such as baking biscuits from scratch every morning, have not.
I originally pursued Ukrainian to distract me from the everyday anxiety of the pandemic. I love to travel and before the fall of 2019, when I moved to New York City, I travelled often. I even visited Ukraine in 2019, going to Kyiv, L’viv, and Chernobyl.
Because tome, travel has always been a huge part of my identity. A cathartic action…
I’d be the perfect horror film character.
I would totally go and write in a desolate hotel for the winter. If I lived in 1630 New England, there’s no doubt my parents would accuse me of witchcraft, due to my hippie-dippie tendencies. And hell yeah, I would venture to a remote part of Sweden to visit a mysterious Scandinavian cult…. err, I mean community.
I could write an entire post about the fantastically scary aspects of Midsommar, but to me, it’s so much more than a horror movie. It’s a deep, ugly look at a sensitive woman’s grief. It’s about…
A few years ago, I had just left my agency job and looking for work. In the long-term, I wanted to work remotely, so I was avoiding full-time desk jobs. I reached out to various local businesses pitching myself and got a response from a local ramen shop.
So for almost six weeks during my transition to remote work, I was a ramen girl. To clarify: I never made ramen. I swept floors, took orders, bussed tables, and dabbled in some marketing and website work for them. …
A few days ago, I kicked off my little quarantine movie club. I wanted to do it just for fun and selfishly, to motivate me to write more content about film. I wrote a list of films I considered “drifty”, or relating to travel or another culture. I immediately wrote down favorites like The Ramen Girl, Midsommar, and Vicky Cristina Barcelona. As an afterthought, I added The Farewell. I hadn’t seen it and I’ve been meaning to. I decided that would be the first film.
I vowed that Thursdays would be viewing days, but this week, I didn’t make enough…
This morning, I woke up in a different world. Instead of the blasting of car horns, I heard birds singing. I panicked, frantically checking whether or not I would miss my train. Then, I remembered. I was no longer in Brooklyn. There would be no train to catch.
Like many others, the spread of COVID-19 resulted in remote work for myself and my co-workers. And rather than stick it out in NYC, my partner Kyle and I decided to flee to the house I own in Wilmington, North Carolina.
“Please come home,” my best friend and tenant, Katie, had begged…
My mother says her favorite place in the world is her backyard. I never understood that until I bought my house.
In the world?!, I remember thinking.
Better than the second floor of a certain bookstore in downtown Reykjavik?
Better than the cozy three room guesthouse I lived in after I got divorced?
Better than Wrightsville Beach in the winter?
I couldn’t imagine such a thing.
But after I moved into my house, and the excitement around the hardwood floors, French doors, and light blue kitchen cabinets subsided, I became bewitched with the backyard.
In terms of size, it’s not…
There are a lot of rules after you break up with someone.
#1. Don’t talk about it.
#2. Pretend everything is fine.
#3. Keep your grief to yourself.
I’ve broken each of those rules. And not because I have a desire to air my dirty laundry, but because writing is my outlet, and fuck, the past few weeks have been something awful.
I’ve stayed up until 2 AM drinking wine and crying.
I’ve called friends needing to talk.
I’ve listened to Madonna’s “Take A Bow,” on repeat and watched movies like The First Wives Club and Under The Tuscan Sun.
I wait until I get to the top of the hill.
“Excuse me,” I pant, my faded Akureyri, Iceland t-shirt dripping with sweat.
“Where’s the finish for the 5k?”
The volunteer, an older man with a thick, tangled grey beard looks at me quizzically.
“5k? Miss, this is the half-marathon,” he says, pulling out a walkie-talkie.
“Your race is over.”
He relays my dilemma over the radio, with crackled, faint voices responding in kind.
I take a step away, speechless, blankly staring over the sun-soaked fields of Hilo, Hawaii.
I had been training for this 5k since November.
I was in the middle of sipping my Bloody Mary when he approached me.
“That’s so funny,” The ginger-haired young man suddenly interjected, while I was mid-sentence to my friend Katie.
She and I were grabbing brunch. It was a lazy Sunday morning, and we opted for something downtown. We were sitting leisurely, laughing and talking, along with her boyfriend Tom. Seated besides the sun-soaked window of the picturesque restaurant, when the stranger overheard us talking.
“Melissa?” he then said, looking directly at me.
“Yeah…” I replied, hesitantly.
I tried to place him, but couldn’t. Did I know him from…
Melissa Randall is a nonfiction writer and essayist. Her stories on Medium often discuss travel, film, and personal life experiences.