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Where to next?

October 10, 2017

That tiny shell, that was something, right? Some kind of sign.

More like a holdover or an astral projection from Strandhill. I’ve not seen another since that first week.

“And the spearmint outside the door, in the garden? The Horvath, J. living in this building?”

“Tiki. Those are not ‘signs’ of anything. There were, are merely notes.”

Budapest, all of Hungary that I’ve met, has been like every other city, and different.

Like every other city because it has beautiful buildings and people moving day-in, day-out between them. Hungarians get coffee, buy eggs, go home, pick up their kids, scoop dog shit, and so on.

Different because I was looking for my Hungarian grandfather’s face. My Hungarian roots, frayed at best in Granger, Indiana, are mine as much as my hand-forged Mexican ones. I thought, possibly maybe, naively, even more because my Hungarian grandfather who raised me spoke Hungarian, made Hungarian food, had Hungarian fandangos. Our Horvath family reunions are some of my best childhood memories.

“The soil in Budapest is dry, yellow, and inhospitable.”

“What of that list written on the train from Prague? Of all the things to do here, the ‘big things’ and something ‘special’?”

Feeling hopeful about my time in Budapest, I wrote myself a love letter, not a “list,” of things To Do, but ideas, experiences, and possibilities I anticipated, desired here. (The train ride from Prague to Budapest is six hours long allowing plenty of time to get romantic…)

Little did I know that “underground hostel” meant a hostel that is below the ground, as in buried beneath the street in a frequently-flooding basement furnished with cheap Ikea-ware. Pretty. Dank. And, to say the least, hostile toward my height. 

“You’re tired,” says Tiki.

“That’s not a question.”

“I’m tired now, yes.”

Budapest is small and I’ve walked it from side to side. I’ve also spent my above ground hours in sidewalk cafes and on benches, and curbs with the mulatto pigeons pecking at the crumbs of my Beigli. Not one face did I see, of the thousands of faces I’ve scanned, not one that resembled John J. Horvath, my grandfather of Hungarian ancestry.  

Tiki is upset that I wrestled the bed of spearmint in the garden that was home, for a minute. Gathering the ashes from the residents’ spliffs and the residue from my 699 FT per liter Hungarian wine, Tiki makes a purplish slurry of sad and before tasting it, yawns, “I’m tired too.” 

Where to next?

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