Being a dreamer, hiding away in the worlds that each different author created, she escaped everyday pressures of bullying and health struggles with treating each page as if it were a jewel from the Crown treasury and memorising each sentence's rhythm, sound, significance, color and atmosphere with laser focus.
"She'll be a writer, this little one".
To the surprise of all her teachers, supplying her with subtle support and a much less subtle amount of extra homework, life took a different turn for Natalie.
Aged 11 she won, unprecedently, the national violin competition and as a result got caught up in the whirlwind of the 'fresh promising young talent' hungry, glamorous world of classical music.
You can picture it. Respectable teachers and performers snowballing words of praise and advice on Natalie and her mildly shocked parents. Some handshakes, then more lessons. More competitions.
Frequent trips to another countries for concerts, pretty dresses and bouquets, as well as a (hard to explain) sense of predetermination, growing pressure from other people's and her own expectations, and - let's face it - regular intake of compliments and validation quickly seduced the young indecisive, eager to please soul into following the well-lit road to becoming a professional classical musician.
Leading up to her conservatory admission aged 15, she often kept reading while pretending to practice one difficult run of music for hours (with no real focus or interest) and it must have either been luck, some sort of real strange talent, or bad karma, depending how you look at it, that she still got into the performing arts school.
She has also daringly approached several online women's magazines at that time, blurring out the information about her age and level of education sneakily, and started writing advice columns and translating advertisement articles, which then became her side job for the following seven years.
Although the music soon consumed all of her time, and she barely managed to read the core minimum of books required for the study, Natalie's graduation essay for the literature state exam still earned negative points for extending way over the word count limit.
While musicmaking allows for the same expressivity and has similar, if not even more sweeping charm to it, devoting yourself to an artform fully is like entering an intense, complicated relationship.
You soon discover the harsh and ugly underneath the initial enchantment, and nothing, nothing at all stays sacred. And the more consuming it is, the more scarring, the more you have gone through, the more you feel bound to make it work, to love the damaged parts back to life, and the harder it is to let go.
And so while music became Natalie's first explosive love affair, walking on the rope tied between love and hate, words have always kept their unstained sanctity and offered a shelter of protection from the growing pains, and quiet, opressed, but ever present doubts about being fit to pursue a performing arts career.
Years later, living in another country, with a music diploma within reach, and a reasonably shaped idea of what the future might look like, with a blood, sweat and tears earned biography worthy of an approving nod (you know what I mean, the head to the side, lips curled upwards, eyebrows raised type thing), a world pandemic strikes.
Really, could there be a harder hitting plot twist?
You can't make this up.
The thing about unexpected and significant situations like this, is that they somehow feel like a massive purge. Everyone deals differently, but it seems to come down to the fact that we all need to feel safe and we all try to make sense of our lives. And what brings us the highly sought after, soothing feelings of safety and clarity is immersing ourselves, binding ourselves to what we love most - be it love of a human kind or love for something we do.
And Natalie kept waking up each day, staring at the shiny black case with a violin inside, not knowing anything for sure, in a haze of confusion and ongoing internal dialogue - well, by dialogue imagine something resembling a couple of sellers on a buzzing Eastern European market trying to catch up while still yelling out announcements of their incomparable watermelon deals to each potential customer passing by, rather than an intellectual conversation over a glass of a sophisticated liquor on the rocks - and all that only to realise that the feelings of guilt for (temporarily) abandoning all she has known for years, and not participating in the "producive from home, 'cause life don't stop" race of her colleagues, none of those feelings were as strong as the urge to run.
And so she did, the only way she has ever learned how.
Disclaimer: English is, as you can quickly notice, not Natalie's mother tongue. She is currently in that painfully awkward stage where her native Czech has taken a hit (by not using it, like, ever) and her English doesn't quite have the right flow or grammar yet, one that you would expect from something so clearly written for public consumption. She is also nowhere near being an actual writer, and it is highly presumptuous of her to suddenly start showing her little secret word collections off to the world as if it had any real purpose. It doesn't. But it's corona time, she's an attention craving, raised in spotlight, (and what's worst) millenial, so really, just be grateful it's not selfies with motivational quotes. Those might come later. Wink.
Although in real life Natalie tries to take care to speak slow and with some sensibility, when she writes, the words keep hurling out like when you put too much dough into a small cake form, and it causes endless flow of connected sentences, and it may be a bit much to follow, and it may cause some shortness of breath (no worries it is not corona) or anxiety (also probably not corona yay), and that could be because we stop breathing when someone speaks fast or there is a lot of information at once, so...
Take a deep breath now.
You can. Read slow. Even if. This was. Written. Fast.
For this and other issues that might come up, Natalie offers sincere apologies and welcomes all corrections.