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.