Ah, so much to say, so little brain power to form coherent thoughts!
We are back from our great adventure across the ocean pretty much in one piece. It was an exhausting, exhilirating, frustrating, fun, delicious trip, all wrapped up in the sweetness and love that Sammy provided for the ride. Without him, I am pretty sure all three of us would have gone insane during our 8 days in Hungary.
In no particular order:
*Sammy was a trooper on the plane ride, coming and going. On the way over he slept in a bassinet provided by the airline. And when I say bassinet, I am highly exaggerating. It was a metal frame with a cardboard box in it. Really. So we made a little nest for him and he slept for all 6 hours and 20 minutes of the flight to Amsterdam. He woke up smiling, ate, and slept again on the flight to Budapest, without a peep. He did all right with the time change as well, getting up a few times at night, but I think it was as much the time change as the teething, crawling, and sitting urges he’s been experiencing. He got his first two teeth in Hungary – yay! They are so adorable. I want to kiss them every day. (Is that weird, to kiss teeth?) He was so friendly to everyone he met, reaching out his little hand to touch people’s faces before deciding whether they were OK or not. He found most people to be OK. He was kissed, snuggled, handed from person to person, dragged around town, and he did not mind one bit. As long as we were on the move and there was action around him he was not hungry or sleepy. On the car ride from the airport to the apartment he looked out the window, observing everything, trying to figure out where he was exactly. It was so adorable. I wish he could talk. He had one bad day – Thursday – when I am pretty sure all of us just wanted to strangle him just a tiny little bit. But the next morning we discovered teeth, so that explained everything. He also got to experience so many new foods! Hungarian baby food comes in much more imaginative varieties than American baby food: potatoes and tomatoes, vegetable risotto, beef and beans, chestnuts and chicken. YUM. He also ate kifli with jam, and langos (fried dough), and bread.
He swam in the Balaton, saw chicken, pigs, and ducks, crawled around a lot on the floor of our apartment, slept on the terrace at Velence, got acquainted with all of the plant life in our garden at Velence, and of course met Great-Grandma:
It was so-so-so-so-so nice to spend this much time with him again and I feel like he matured so much just in two weeks. I know he will have no memory of this trip, but I sure will and I will treasure every moment of it.
*The mind-numbingly frustrating and emotional part of the trip came when we stepped through the doors of our Budapest apartment. Our “friends” who lived there trashed the place and despite the newly-painted colorful walls, the place was in shambles. Dirty, messy, trash everywhere… My parents quickly came to the conclusion that they should sell the place. My brother and I have been urging them to do so for a while. I realize that it’s not that simple – too many memories, emotions, and family history reside among its walls to just write it off. But the hassle and the headache all of it caused — and will cause in the future — made all of us think about whether it was worth hanging onto it. It’s a hard call and one that I think fate will make in the end. If we find a buyer, great. If we find a renter, that will work too, although that might just postpone the decision. I think I was exactly “zero” help to my parents when it came to these issues, but my horoscope for that week said that my family will need my sense of humor. So maybe I did provide that. I sort of said my good-byes to the apartment and to Budapest the last time I was there in 2006 so as much as I felt emotional about all of this, I also felt somewhat removed. Or maybe I was just protecting myself, who knows? Probably a little bit of everything. The whole apartment fiasco also made me think about our housing situation. I’ve been holding on to the idea of OWNING a house, of providing a childhood home for Sam. Drew and I have been thinking about selling our house and either renting or buying a cheaper condo. I’ve been against renting, but now I wonder whether the idea of a childhood home carries as much burden (both financial and emotional) as joy. If we didn’t have a mortgage, maybe I wouldn’t have to work. Maybe we really could take another trip to Hungary next summer with a little side-trip to Paris for just the two us with Drew. Maybe this is another blog post for another day….
*Budapest seemed really lovely. Cleaner than usual, less dog poop, less homeless, more flowers, more people on bicycles and scooters. I had exactly two hours of free time (thank you, Mom!!!!) to wonder around and I used that to go to my favorite book store and to my favorite cafe. To my horror of horrors, the cafe got rid of its cake display and replaced it with a bar and added a TELEVISION to the patio. What were they thinking? Nevertheless, the chestnut puree was yummy as always.
What is not obvious from the picture is that there is another layer of whipped cream underneath all of the chestnutty goodness. This should be illegal.
*Seeing our friends – especially the ones who are my age with kids – made me think a lot about what my life would be like in Hungary. I think during vacations it’s easy to imagine that life is all about sleeping in, swimming in the Balaton, and eating out and that “real” life is not really like that. But I can’t help but wonder about that possible life, about its challenges and joys. For the first time when I came back to the US I felt that my life here was so… vanilla. So superficial. All smiles and clean stores and friendly people, but no substance beyond that. Life in Budapest seems dirty and messy, but also more genuine in a way. Hard to put a finger on it and this probably makes no sense to anyone but me.
* Since we got back, Sammy also learned a new trick: He can stand up in his playpen. I will post a photo of this later, but let me just say that finding him standing up, wailing, was just the biggest shock and surprise I could have imagined for a Monday morning. Made me laugh so hard and then I felt so sorry for him because he was obviously terrified. We baby-proofed the house somewhat this weekend – bought a rug to cover the hard brick of the fireplace, plugged in the electrical outlets — so I think we are ready for some movement. But my little guy is growing up so fast! He is starting his 9th month today… Time sure flies.