At Home …

This week I have noodled for a blog topic.  And really, I don’t have one.  Then I realized that, in and of itself, might be my blog topic.  We have been home in Colorado for two weeks and it’s been a blast: visiting friends over coffee or dinner; enjoying a movie with our daughter; absorbing the beauty of the Rocky Mountains.  It all feels so very normal – not exactly blog worthy.   Maybe that, in and of itself, is something to write about.

Home doesn’t require much thought.  I completely understand it.  If someone says, “Friday Night Lights” it conjures an image of two high school football teams taking the field, a band is playing and fans are on their feet – screaming, cheering.  The air is perfectly crisp – leaves are falling.  The phrase connects to something in my being.  Pat has observed that we will never really understand Budapest, the family traditions – what replaces those Friday night lights.  It’s not so much the big things.  I can study history or current events.  I don’t understand the nuance of daily life.

As a consequence, when we are in Budapest I am always on high alert.  Someone’s passing comment might morph into an interview.  What did they do for Valentine’s Day?  How did they spend Sunday afternoon?  Where did they grow up and what was that like?  Hungarians are similar to Americans in that most did not grow up in the big city.  Most are transplants from small villages dotting the countryside.  Some grew up as Hungarians in Serbia or Romania – the so called “ethnic minority” displaced across a war torn, moving border.  How did that feel?

Recently, I sat outside during lunch reading Ivo Andric’s book The Bridge over the Drina.    The book takes place in Bosnia.  When a man I work with noticed the title he said, “Interesting selection, that’s my home.”  I put the book down to chat.  I do not believe I have ever met a native Bosnian, have never chanced to gain a first hand perspective from a part of the world best known for retaliatory ethnic cleansings as Islam, Christianity and Orthodoxy collide and just keep colliding.

When I am in the United States, I understand the ebb and flow of life.  Easter morning I get up early to hide eggs.  If a friend has a party, I’ll bring a bottle of wine.  There will always be turkey and pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving dinner.  If a tooth should fall out, the tooth fairy will make a visit (should the tooth fairy remember).  I had a front row seat to Vietnam protests, urban riots, an American on the moon, gas line shortages, stock market corrections, housing price crashes.  I “get” the United States.

In Hungary, I am usually lost – poised to jump on a passing comment and mine the story underneath.  Recently, a young man said to me, “I have always envied the west – the stability.  Not waiting for a crisis or a war.”   Wow.  This from a guy I work with not yet 30 years old.    We had a memorable and touching discussion about his life over lunch.

I have enjoyed my time at home – of course I have.  But I am starting to itch for Budapest.  I am planning day trips and overnight visits to Eger, Pecs and Szekesfehervar.  We will visit some of the 25 thermal pools in the city.  The classical music season commences soon – and we’ll be there.  Come December there will be Christmas markets everywhere and our entire family stuffed into our small apartment.  I am looking forward to it all; including that perpetually off kilter feeling.

Categories: Ruminations

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4 replies

  1. Your Hungarian friend may be seeing the United States of a generation ago. I heard a new commentator the other day saying that his two children, 9 and 11, had grown up in a nation perpetually at war. This shocked me, but it’s true. Of course it’s also true that the war is not on our doorstep, as war often has been in Hungary, but we do seem to move from crisis to crisis nowadays.
    Your posts are wonderful. I think very few Americans could embrace life in Hungary as you have done, and it’s a tribute your being a true citizen of the world. I’ve enjoyed spending time in Budapest, Pecs, and Eger but have never lived there.

  2. Actually I think we are all united for the simple reason that we never know what our lives will have to bare…..while we don’t face war or worldly crisis on a daily basis, we stammer through catastrophic weather events…the Boulder flooding as you wrote this blog, Superstorm Sandy last year, massive shootings to innocent people(Sandy Hook, Aurora) and continual struggles to keep afloat during economic upheavals. I think as an American we are able to navigate a bit better through our own crisis because of those things we CAN rely on..our stability. Somehow, I think the Hungarians and everyone else have their anchors too.

    Julie…I do look forward to your blogs weekly….I relate to so many of your observations and as I have said, remain envious of your fortitude and resolve to keep discovering.

    • Hi Ellen… Thanks so much for the feedback. I’t is always great feedback when somebody can relate.
      We all do have our challenges. I’m writing this from Boulder, Colorado where my daughter is a student.
      It is so true we all have our challenges and we all have our anchors which support us.
      Always great to hear from you!… Julie

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