It is time to say goodbye to Bratislava and hello to Budapest. We didn’t come here thinking it was forever. Yet, leaving is still hard. An itinerant life is fun, right up until you actually have to move.
Relocating between countries requires a “glass half full” perspective. It is easy to dissect a country and its people - to notice all the things you prefer back home. Most of us prefer home – it’s what makes it, well, home. One of the gifts I will take away from the last 18 months is a deeper and better appreciation of both Slovakia and home. The glass half full cuts both ways.
For now, we will forward our mail to Budapest. We have committed to live there for two years. Excitement is our only option. Any other reaction would be a prelude to disaster. Budapest is a beautiful city – one of the loveliest in Europe. It’s big. I can wrap my hands around Bratislava. I’m just learning to wrap my head around Budapest.
The issue isn’t really the difference between the cities; one is small and the other large, one is quaint and the other urbane, one is Slovak and the other Hungarian. The bigger issue is, quite simply, one is home and the other foreign and undiscovered.
Our best friends in Bratislava are Igor and Vlasta. We met Igor when we serendipitously dropped into his music shop, he offered us coffee, and we said “yes”. The randomness of life is something we have discussed, a moment completely off script which impacted all of our lives. We will continue to build vacation plans – and we will certainly return for Igor’s 50th birthday party. But our relationship dynamics will change. We can no longer wake up on Saturday morning and say,”Let’s pop into the music shop and see Igor.” Our friendship will require planning, as do the rest of our long distance friendships.
I did not envision this day or this feeling. By necessity, you learn to compartmentalized an overseas life - neither looking too far backward or forward. This is high school graduation with a bit less drama. A life transition which involves moving to an exciting place to start anew – to live a life you have freely chosen which requires you to leave behind so many things you love.
For now, I will choose to believe that someplace in Budapest is a music shop with a proprietor who will offer us coffee and become our friend. There is a restaurant which will be the Friday night “go to” place. When we walk in the door, the waiter will nonchalantly push aside the “reserved” sign and invite us to sit. There is a small venue where the locals go for the best and cheapest classical music concerts. We will eventually join them. Today, I don’t know where any of this is – or if it exists at all. The fun lies in the discovery.
We have to believe in the power of the unexpected – the treasures of a future yet unknown. We have to be open enough to recognize, and welcome, those things when they stumble into our lives. We have to drop our guard – something which frankly, I’m not very good at doing.
Maybe we will return to Bratislava and live here someday. Perhaps I’ll sign up for Slovak classes and learn to make bryndzové halušky and eat my weight in poppy seeds. For now, it doesn’t matter. For now, we are moving to Budapest. A bit of Slovakia will go with us along with the most important lesson we’ve learned. When some one says “Do you have time for a coffee?” we’ll say “yes.”
I’m not going far – and we plan to return to Bratislava and Slovakia regularly. Of course, more and more blog topics will be of our life in Hungary. I believe a good bit of Slovakia content will sneak in also.. I hope so.