chapter  XVIII
Pages 11

I just call it macˇka-cat.” I think it needs a name,” I offered tentatively. He shrugged. I looked more closely at him. He looked exhausted. Stojan wore

sleeplessness on his face. Sometimes, I would awaken on his couch in the

middle of the night to see him-a massive shadow-leaning over the kitchen sink in the dark, splashing his face with water, and drinking from the faucet out of his cupped hands. Then he would pad across back to his bedroom. As high summer approached, I often grew to stay too late with him on the rusting balcony, and I couldn’t be bothered to find my way home again, or to return to the solitude of the office. So I would sleep on his couch. After that whole year spent plagued by loneliness, I was beginning to find that it was increasingly difficult to find my way back and re-enter the frame of my life. But I had not exchanged a difficult life for an easier one. I could feel my academic expertise dissolving all around me, like flesh melting away from my bones. I could feel myself losing the reference points by which I had grown to define my life, first out of curiosity, and then out of habit, and finally out of a chronic inability to choose differently. At first, it was almost imperceptible. It manifested in my increasing disinterest in the journals that arrived in my departmental mailbox. Everything I read seemed completely pointless. Since I had stopped reading, I was slowly beginning to be unable to write anything. I was beginning to feel a cringing shame at my book on Bosnia, which was maybe why I hadn’t sent it to the publisher yet. It sat on the edge of my desk day after day, the address of the editor at the press written boldly across the padded envelope in the thick, smug lines of a black marker. But things were beginning to change. I was less and less sure of myself. I was less and less sure of what I was doing, and why. I wanted to escape from myself. I felt in my bones a nausea, a shame, and a strange sense of growing ineptitude. The padded envelope that cocooned the manuscript within it mocked me from the corner of the desk.