Fear and Loathing in a Broken Fast Car

Written on June 27, 2019 by Andrijan Apostoloski

“All conflict between friends, lovers, family or states begins as conflict inside yourself. Freeing yourself from conflict, frees the world of conflict.”
~ Wu Hsin

This story is about my adventure to Prishtina, my way back to Skopje which resulted me running from the police and turning myself the next morning, a story about dealing with emotions and learning that it’s okay to have them and show them right away, not let them build up and create even more unnecessary chaos in life.

A day before leaving Skopje for Prishtina, I turned the engine on for the first time after three months. I went driving without a clutch, I got comfortable knowing the rev points and was curious how the border of Tanushevci looked like, the unregulated border crossing to Kosovo that I’d wanted to take for months prior. On the way back to my home right before the village Pobozhje, my car slipped and I almost fell in a ditch which was 100m deep, or perhaps even more. I know that there were very mature trees grown in this downhill and if I went down my chances of survival were probably slim.

This was my second time almost dying with this car of mine, Alfa 156 with an 1800cc 16v petrol engine which produced around 140bhp. The first time was few months prior to the COVID shit happening, going to Prishtina I fell asleep on the highway and LPG leaked inside the cockpit which lead to me going dreamy and just waking up by the impact of the car onto the right side flat barriers. I can only tell you that if I fell asleep few hundred meters later, I wouldn’t be so happy to write this now.

Anyways, let me get back to the point. I waited until the day tomorrow, no fear of driving because I acknowledged the error and thought about it, it was still me driving a bit too fast and overestimating my car’s capabilities. Also, I should probably mention that my clutch didn’t work at all, meaning that if I was to stop my car would shut off, and to get back going I’d need to start in first gear.

Shifting without a clutch is actually very interesting, and a very useful thing to know. If you know the engine and start feeling comfortable with it, then it can become a problem because this method is only useful if you reach the destination that you’d then fix the problem, not a permanent solution. Otherwise the clutch wouldn’t be invented at all, right?

So next day I prepare myself and start going to the borders of Kosovo with my destination being Prishtina. On the Macedonian border, I went out and signed a paper that said I’d need to be in self-isolation for 14 days if I decide to come back. That’s okay, previously it was three months of jail, so no biggie, right?

Going over to Kosovo side right after, I was stopped by the police and told to give them all information of my stay, including the persons name and phone number. After an hour of them examining why the fuck I’m going to Prishtina in midst of a COVID crisis, they tested my temperature and asked me few questions regarding the virus. Then, I was allowed to pass into Kosovo’s territories, but I needed to get car insurance right after passing, into the customs side of the border that is used for truck transport and such.

What greeted me was this huge depo with lots of trucks and vans passing by, some waiting and lots of them leaving, it seemed like these fellas saw a lot of people during the time I was in my room locked up in quarantine. And believe me, I shit you not, quarantine for me was fucking intense.

I call my friend where I’m staying and after that I had this smile that I couldn’t erase from my face. However, I knew that COVID quarantine hit me hard on the mind, after all, I was almost three months locked up without ever leaving my home with the exception of me buying cigarettes to the store and very few visits to my best friends apartment.
That smile… it lasted for some time, I will remember it forever I guess. Entering Prishtina was a bit stressful, I knew the city had some uphils that I needed to go through that I just couldn’t afford to stop, otherwise it would require me turning the car in reverse gear and making chaos in the traffic. And the traffic in Prishtina is chaotic, believe me. Especially on a turnaround. Oh, it creates this feeling of uncomfort just thinking about it now.

Anyways, I successfully reached my destination and parked the car. I went into the apartment and succeeded to survive few parties there, went homeless after some time (by my own choosing and fault, I guess) and just found myself without any money, because I didn’t use the time I had previously on the computer working, I spent it by sleeping for the first time ever in months.

Back in Skopje when the quarantine hit me hard, I couldn’t sleep normally. I abused drugs, but the main issue was this heavy weight on my head that reminded me that I was responsible for both of my grandparents lifes.

In Prishtina however I realized that the people around are chill, for me it was like waking up the next day and COVID ceased to exist. A scary feeling, but also kind of relieving. About what happened there… well, that is not a thing to write about publicly, I believe. I have met a new dog who was my best friend tho, so I truly appreciate that new connection in life. But I will comment that my wish to have an e with the friend I intended didn’t happen. That’s why from now on, I will not wish for anything and just have no expectations in life. I try to get rid of them, I always seem to end up disappointed to be honest.

I will continue to the day where I had to leave back to Skopje, it was a sad day for me, a sad week, whatever. I felt broken, cold and like I survived an emotional catastrophe behind me. I called the embassy of North Macedonia prior and they told me I had to go through a 14 day self-isolation period, the same document I signed previously when I passed the border so it was really no issue. The issue was only starting the car because it was sitting there for some time, the battery was dead, and my right back tyre was deflated completely. Ah yeah, and the clutch. I kind of forget about that because I started to get comfortable with it.

I wouldn’t leave Prishtina for anything to be honest. I love it. However, I just couldn’t survive without my computer and a bath, and I spent all my money previously to be able to rent a place. And making money enough to afford to rent a place for a month at least would take me to heat up my chair, which yeah… I didn’t do previously. At this point I was living in the attic of a club that goes through restoration right now, which was provided to me by a friend. That place for me is very special and will hold a very huge portion in my heart, very big gratitude for the chance and the possibility to spend some time with myself in the attic and the beautiful garden that they are preparing to open soon. I even helped them with dealing with some wooden decorations and tables that they’re going to put there, I always kind of loved wooden furniture so seeing it being prepared and taken care of was another positive thing to have there.

Yeah… anyways… I’ll skip to me going back to the border. The highway from Prishtina to Skopje or vice versa is one of the most beautiful roads around the Balkans, it’s new, it has enough straights and just about enough curves that makes it a very easy and fast ride.

However in this moment I didn’t spend time thinking about my ride or the highway, I kind of didn’t want to be at it, I wanted to sleep in Prishtina, the city I looked in the mirrors of my car that seemed to have a thunderstorm on its way. Damn, a sight I don’t want to see another time in my life. I mean, not in the mirrors… Perhaps on the windshield and me driving there, not from there. You know what I mean.

The Kosovo police officer told me that everything is okay from their side and no limitations were in action whatsoever, meaning that I could go back without the previous hassle whenever I wish. Huh, great timing amigo. Passing through the Macedonian side however left me in awe. I was told by the police officer that I’d need a COVID test or spend 14 days in government quarantine. This was not the fucking information from the embassy I got prior, and he even told me to go back in Prishtina if I could and wait for a week before he enters me in the system, because they got some information that the quarantine would be lifted then.

That was not an option however, I’d have to go straight to Skopje, I just didn’t want to go back, I needed some time with myself. I waited for five or six hours at the border along with a Hungarian plated Audi SUV when the police van came to accompany us to the government hotel. I am a very calm person, but I am also wild. Wild in the sense that as soon as I passed Kosovo, I fixated that I’d do an e with my best friend and just tell him what happened to me in general. I haven’t seen him for two and a half weeks after all, and I missed the talks with him.

While the police SUV started first, I was the third car in the row, following the Audi with Hungarian plates before me. They were going to take me in a crappy hotel which was fine, I wanted to go to the village and be with myself and my thoughts, but I won’t say no to the same but with internet and AC.

However, that wish of mine that I didn’t succeed to realize back in Prishtina still pumped through my mind, I just needed a friend, and if I could manage to find an e and just listen to some music together everything would be just fine. The drugs were just a bonus really. In reality, I just needed a good friend by me.

I played this track which I made prior, dedicated to a special person in my life and my emotions started acting up. You see, my consciousness knows that what I’m thinking isn’t the best for me. However, it also knows that If I won’t lose the cop and just be free, at least for few hours, I would be much sadder than usual. I wouldn’t have a friend around me, I’d have only my thoughts and the new heaviness on my mind that was unexpected. Blah, blah… The time for rationality was overpowered by the mere overwhelmness of emotions that took over.

The power of that fast rhythm showed me that techno is more powerful, it just proved to me that the remix does the job better than expected, if played in the right time. Every track has the right time and place, and I can’t see a better one for this remix that’s off an album called “200 km/h in the Wrong Lane“.

I took a left turn on the highway that led me to the complete opposite side of the city that the hotel was located on. As soon as I turned the steering wheel, I put the car into second gear and my heart started pumping. I turned up the volume, started driving as fast as possible to lose the police SUV and that was it. With my ’99 Alfa Romeo 156 without a working clutch. Full gas baby. Nobody is gonna get me if I don’t want them to, especially not some cops that I needed to wait for five hours. Pedal to the metal, you know.

I ended up at my friends apartment, I managed to order an e, we spent the night listening to some music, listening to what we’ve been going through the last two and a half weeks while we’ve not seen each other and the morning came. We were out of cigarettes, and I knew it was time for me to go and pay for the repercussions. I bought myself cigarettes and went to the police station to turn myself in.

After few hours there, getting questioned, I was put into a special van and taken to the very same hotel I needed to be in the first place.

Was this the smartest thing I’ve done in my life? Definitely not. I’d say it even deserves to be put somewhere near the bottom, however I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve managed to find answers these past two weeks being alone and truly have the time with myself, even a machine to write and make music and some income that I’ve missed for a month. I believe that true friends can’t be lost in life, so I am not worried at all about that. I am just going to focus on getting myself onto the point I want to be, and that is not far within my mindset I’ve managed to build up in quarantine whilst in Skopje, my overall life experience and just my recent emotional clusterfucks, which I shit you not, were very worse just one year prior.

I am good. I hope you are too.