The devil howls from inside the radiator, echoing around the lamp lit low-ceilinged walls. I untangle myself from the duvet and swing my legs over the side of the springy couch, sliding my socks against the soft carpet to the window. After a foggy, huggingly damp day, the Vienna midnight sky has parted to reveal a blanket of sleepy stars.
I crank the handle to the left and the window creaks open. A breeze squeezes its way through the tall surrounding 18th century apartment buildings and nuzzles through my hair and over my skin in a way that can only be expressed as delicious, dancing around the stuffy room and sharpening my surroundings.
It’s midnight, and of course I am awake. That’s what happens when you go to bed at 7:30.
My body–much to my delight–chose a few days prior to revisit the formerly repressed incident of the 2007 Taco Bell Food Poisoning, rendering it’s inhabitant, yours truly, solely interested in being immediately unconscious after any intake of food.
My parents had flown from the United States for an intended fortnight holiday in Europe, releasing me from any obligation to complete the 18 hour journey for myself. We spent three days in Graz–mostly of which featured a fetal-positioned Josie writhed on the couch after spending a night getting friendly with the bathroom–and then skirted over to Vienna for the four days sandwiching Christmas.
From Vienna would we fly to Berlin, rent a car, and drive the Autobahn at top speed to Miedzyzdroje, Poland; a hopping tourist destination in summer on the north coast of Poland and blissfully devoid of bathing suit clad Europeans during the depths of the winter. After retreating to Poland for two days, we would drive back to Berlin and explore history.
The Viennese breeze.
The flat that I had found for us on Airbnb was nestled amongst the traditional 18th century apartments of Vienna, a 10 minute walk from breathtaking Parliament buildings and national libraries.
A bit sticky from the heat of the satanic radiator yet much refreshed from the influence of the night breeze, I grab my copy of The Fellowship of the Ring, meander to the bathroom and draw myself a bath in the porcelain tub.
Thoughts of cleanliness purge the remaining feelings of illness from my body, scents of antique stores and old books waft from my copy of The Lord of the Rings, the words placing me amongst hobbits wandering through adventures.
I am Bilbo, resting after a long day of charting unfamiliar territory, my feet sore from darting around strangers and buildings, all seemingly taller and grander and more breathtaking than I.
I am the still water, capable of movement, capable of dancing and swirling and swishing and swooshing, yet completely contented with the current state of my passive being.
I am a thinker, friendly with the lonely midnight sky, familiar with the stars, handsy with the night breeze.
My sensitive stomach renders me needless and utterly content.
I float, uncrowded, swallowing the moment.
They say that 4am is the philosopher’s hour; when the dregs of late-nighters finally find the pillows and the ambitious and highly motivated still slumber for a final hour, they say 04:00 is for those with thoughts too breathtaking and bottomless for sleep.
It’s this hour.
It’s this moment.
It’s submerged in this porcelain tub, thumbing through the rough grainy pages of an adventure novel, breathing in the seeming exclusivity of awakeness.
Perhaps it was the elimination of multitasking that created such a perfect, unscriptable bath. Perhaps it was the complete absence of claustrophobia.
Whatever it was, Vienna, you made me feel as if I were a part of you.
Peace and Blessings,