The Runaway Chronicles Part Two

It’s our first morning in Dubrovnik and I’m sitting at the window smoking far-too-strong cigarettes, thinking like a carousel on fast-forward. We came down on the city the other night slack jawed on a rickety little bus. I was embarrassingly expecting a country overrun by woods and little old ladies riding donkeys, but as the old town blurred into focus we were met by a seaside blanket of coloured lights. White walls that towered over everyone and crisp tiled streets. The hostel owner was young, flirty and very European. He took our luggage in both his hands and led us through side streets that wound around each other, playing chasey, getting lost. He had a cancellation, he said, so the two of us would be upgraded to a private apartment with a kitchen, a lounge and our own bathroom. He had barely led us up the stairs and ushered himself out before we were rolling around on the floor, muffling laughter, unable to believe the twists and turns of the universe. The room was air-conditioned. We had a couch each and the windows were draped with vines.

Now its midday, and boiling. I just went outside to try and set up my writing post in the sun but retreated almost instantly. I have paper skin and cannot for the life of me handle heat like that. The girls here are bronzed with waterslide silhouettes, and M glows alongside them easily. She’s all sunshine and rivieras, that girl. And I love her for it. But I’ll never be able to surrender myself to summer in quite the same way, to don a bikini and be swallowed up happily by the elements. I can’t think properly. I need shade and a good book, water that licks at my ankles, red toenails and cold iced tea. That is, I suppose, why I left Australia in the first place for piles of freshly washed laundry and rain on windowsills. 

But I’m here with my feet dangling out the window, and it’s beautiful. M is sleeping, oblivious to the world. Last night we stayed up late drinking vodka, literally forgetting to go out to the bars and instead, digging deeper into the parts of each other’s lives that happened before we met. It is rare that I find a person I am so intrigued by. I could spend forever listening to stories of her school years, her family, her passions and her loves over dinner. As Croatia buzzed below us we leaned out the window and confessed to each other our dream worlds, amazed at how we constantly seemed to find more of ourselves in each other. During the day, we discovered a tiny private beach covered in pebbles instead of sand. Even writing that is enough for me to want to go back. I think I’m going to wake up M and take her there now.

We’re on the island of Hvar now, and the days are long and hazy. My skin is crumbling into water. We’re getting slow and lethargic, and rarely leave the hotel before midday.  We spend all our time down by the water, sucking on cherry stones. The heat skids over all your surfaces, searching for a way inside. We lie about in half agony, half single-minded bliss. Rolling in and of our own shells like waves crashing down again and again on sand. 

Tonight feels exciting. Night is falling and music is drifting towards the balcony. Our hotel is basic, but right on the water with the most incredible view. We’re staying in a harbour and it almost reminds me of a wartime scene when the sailors would go out dancing with the nurses. You know, it’s interesting to think about how we romanticise past generations and fail to see the appeal of our own. M just said to me that youth today are so free-spirited, and that’s rather true. We travel on our own, we work in different countries. We move out for reasons other than marriage. A lot of us are artists or independent thinkers, and it’s socially acceptable rather than radical.

This era is a good one in which to be alive. We can carve our own worlds out of the stone around us and tread our own paths. Try not to mourn the whimsy and fancies of another age, but wake up each morning brimming with happiness because we have more power now to chose than our parents and our grandparents before them. We are the freedom generation. It’s a luxury to be able to run off with dotted pulses and toothy grins into the horizon line. But don’t be too consumed yearning for faraway cities, you’ll visit them one day. And it will be amazing. But wanderlust is only satisfied when you’re travelling, wonderlust, on the other hand, is something you can keep with you always. To see the world with wonder, your quiet little hometown, the mantelpiece pictures at your grandmother’s house, the smell of concrete and rain, a morning coffee, the books you read and the people you pass on the street. Understand that they are as much part of your world as London, New York, Paris. Relish in them, breathe them in. These tiny pieces of existence have secrets to tell you if only you’d sharpen your wits a little. These are the fabrics of our world, and we are the new romantics.      


We didn’t want to leave the island, but here we are, here we are. Onwards and upwards. Having to say goodbye to locations the second we fall in love with them. Our hostel in Split is named after Tchaikovsky and we were assigned to ‘The Nutcracker Room’. I’m sitting in my bottom bunk with the curtain wrapped around me. The bed is huge, like a bat cave. I feel like I might just stay here forever and try to recover from the time we’ve had.

I never got the chance to write about it because we were always out, but Hvar was a beautiful surprise. Throbbing with life each night, people emerged as if in unison from the water as evening fell and retreated to their rooms, showered, changed, then stepped out onto the street wearing tight clothes and clacky heels. On the first night, M and I ended up at a club called Pink Champagne that you had to be ushered into via a room-sized elevator covered in plush pillows and a mirror that took up an entire wall. We downgraded to beer and elbowed through a bumpy crowd to the front of the room where DJ’s and a band were playing together, layering and building up sound before letting it all crash down at once, startlingly, beautifully. We let go of ourselves and danced at the front all night. Later we befriended the musicians, who were all German, and spent the next couple of days soaking ourselves on beaches with them, drinking cocktails, swimming, and even being their guests last minute on a party boat that sailed around the Croatian coastline. Australians tend to attract each other like magnets overseas, so to be truly immersed in a group of foreigners was an opportunity we relished. If they ever accidentally slipped into German we never alerted them, and instead floated beneath the waves of unfamiliarity, the guttural sounds. Soaking it up in awe. We grew very fond of these friends, and were sad when we inevitably had to part with them.

I’m getting so attached to morning walks home arm and arm with M, eyes sore from all the lights and feet aching to climb into bed. We’re past the halfway point of our trip now, and I’m feeling a little more frantic about it all. I feel as if this time in my life is very precious and worth living and it scares me terribly. There’s a relief in mediocrity, an alibi. But I have no excuse right now not to live with eyes peeled open and truly welcome every moment. 

The thought of touching back down in England is a lovely one though. I keep catching myself thinking of it as home. But it’s not, is it? Maybe I haven’t decided on a home yet. I wonder how long I can get away with this traipsing, with this total refusal to put down roots. I get the feeling that it’s far from over yet, though. I may not be good at some things, but I at least seem to be alright at keeping the adventures coming through the never ending hours.    

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