Friday, May 15, 2015

Some days

Most days I walk along here at an even pace.  I do my shopping and go for walks and I'm content, if not outrageously happy.

Most days I wake up in the morning and I look out at the green hills and I feel the breeze through my window and I'm satisfied.

Most days there is one point, a drive across the Chain Bridge, a hike in the forest, a coffee in the village, that my heart catches a bit and I feel so lucky.

But some days the walk is more like a crawl, each movement heavy and hard.  I do my shopping and I go for walks, and I'm surrounded by people, but I feel lonely.

Some days I wake up and the green hills look strange.  Foreign.

Some days there is one point, when I'm yelled at in Hungarian as I take a walk with my son, when all I need to finish dinner is one simple ingredient that I just can't find, when my poor Hungarian just confuses the waiter and I end up with nothing to eat at all, that my heart catches a bit and I'm fighting back tears.

My first year here I thought every day about life in the States.  I pictured myself there, what I would be doing first thing in the morning, after lunch, at bedtime.  I don't think a day went by that I didn't daydream of home.  I became addicted to Facebook, obsessing over my friends' updates, realizing that a few months earlier they would have been mine.

To be honest, though, I rarely imagine myself there now.  In the past four years this has become home.  My kids have literally asked if we can live here until we die, so I suppose they're fairly comfortable too.

But sometimes I have hard days, or hard weeks.  I did in the States, too.  Only then, there wasn't an obvious answer.  Here, there is.

If we lived in the States and someone shouted at me, I could defend myself.  If we lived in the States and I needed any ingredient at all, I could hop in my car, drive five minutes, and find it.  If we lived in the States I could order my freaking food and expect to actually get it!

I know a lot of these problems could also be fixed with a good understanding of the language.  Which I would love.  But with three young kids I barely have time to use the bathroom, which makes popping out of the house multiple times a week for intensive Hungarian courses, um, impossible!

So instead I use these frustrating moments to evoke a simpler time and an easier life.  A place where I was comfortable and could get what I wanted, whenever I wanted it.  A place where I was happy all the time.  Right?

And if for some reason I wasn't at the top of my game, I could go to Panera for unlimited hazelnut coffee.  Or to the library for story time.  Or to the gym where I could drop off my kids and watch TV while barely breaking a sweat on the elliptical.

And that would make me happy.

Or would it?

Because I had down days in the States too.  And a trip to the gym did not, in fact, fix it.  Story time didn't make me feel any better.  A hot cup of coffee at the park?  Well, let's not get crazy here.  That helped.

I have found a yearly trip home necessary to my mental health here.  It's the time when I marry my fantasy of life in the States to reality.  It's when I realize life is both good and hard anywhere... everywhere.

By the end of our year here, though, I start to forget the hard.  I start painting a picture that highlights all of the good and blurs away the bad.

But then we go and I remember what it is I love about life here.  I treasure the simplicity of it, the community, the life we've built for ourselves as a family, striking out on our own for the first time.

I love our walks to the butcher and the milk shop.  I love enjoying an ice cream in the square.  I love walking hand in hand through the city and coming across a new playground, watching the kids scurry off to climb and dig and play.

It's good.  Really good.  But it's not perfect.  And sometimes, even four years later, it's hard.

But we didn't come here to escape hard.  In fact, we came here fully intending to embrace it.  Because there's beauty after the hard, and oftentimes right in the middle of it.

Like a mid-week escape to the pools with squealing, shiny-faced toddlers.  Like a real, honest conversation with my eldest and the sound of his lighthearted laughter afterwards.  Like my hidden smile when I tell my toddler it's time to go and he balls up his little fists and says, "Neber!"

This morning I took a walk with Benjamin.  It was cloudy when we left and I was afraid I'd be cold, as I often am.  But every once in a while the sun peeked through the clouds and warmed my arms.  It would disappear shortly, but I could still feel its heat on my skin.  And it seemed, every time, to hold just until the sun shone through again.

And so I guess some days will be more clouds than sun, and others perfectly clear.  And I suppose that's true here as much as it is anywhere.

Perhaps it's not a matter of perfect, 100% happy days.  Maybe it's enough to hold a bit of warmth until the sun peeks through again.


  1. So true and well put. Good days are to be cherished. Bad days are part of life.

  2. So true and well put. Good days are to be cherished. Bad days are part of life.