August 27, 2012

Dearest M,

It doesn't really go away, does it? The pain returns as freely as it dissipates, like when the joints in my hip flare up, like the pain in my back, always there waiting for me after a rough nights sleep or carrying your sister on my shoulders for way too many blocks.

It's gotten so busy around here, with your brother and all. I'm afraid I haven't stopped long enough to just sit with you. I find myself alone for the first time in months, I mean really alone, in strange cities and foreign languages, and you're all I can think about.

Slow down for a day and you rush in like a freight train.

Hey dad, you say. Remember? 

Yes, darling.

We have done so well, you and I, working toward integration, living together without as many tears, without so much heartbreak. I see you sitting there on the shelf and I know the pain has evolved. The space where you reside in my brain is no different than where the other two and your mother live, right out front, covering more mental and emotional ground than everything else combined, and even all of these thoughts about you have morphed into something vaguely uplifting. We are progressing. I can see this.

And then I get alone with you - without you - and everything seems to crumble for a time. No matter the progress, however important it may be, no matter the integration and the beauty, the acceptance, no matter how much I mentally talk myself down from the pain, no matter how much I tell myself to keep walking, you, you, you, my second daughter with blue eyes and big hands and Bray cheeks are never coming back.

I miss you something awful my dear. I would give anything to hold you again, just a little bit longer. Another hour or two, or another day. Sometimes I wish we hadn't donated your heart valves so we could have had more time. I wish I could have followed you around the city until you ended up back in my hands. Your sister is getting so big and so old and I desperately wish you guys were playing together. Movie nights aren't the same without you. Or going out for dinner or taking little trips, or anything else for that matter.

Whatever is left of you and however complicated this father and daughter relationship is, I love you Margot June.


August 23, 2012

The last two days of my trip included more walking and riding around the city, more delicious food, a swimming break at the thermal baths, Hungary Independence day celebrations and a few important stops with my parents to say goodbye to their close friends, which luckily for me, took us into their homes for some authentic Hungarian food, history and culture.

Some captions below:

Inside an M1 subway car, the oldest subway line in continental Europe

Heroe's Square

Fireworks over the Danube

Friends Zule, Ella and KrisztiƔn

Zule, Ella and KrisztiƔn's home, one of eleven flats in this pre WW2 mansion. Still has bullet holes and bomb damage from World War 2.

View of the city from Buda Castle

Exploring a woodworker's shop

Downstairs neighbors and friends, Frank and Maria

Frank and Maria's Home

August 19, 2012

I landed in Budapest in the evening, daylight fading, to cheers from a raucous crowd of youngsters in the back of the plane, who by all accounts, seemed to find the routine landing something of a marvel. 

This is my second stint in Hungary, having backpacked here with Kari and friends in 2008. We arrived then by train from Bratislava, with wide eyes and little money and frisbees to keep us occupied when we weren't gallivanting around. Back then we wandered around with little knowledge of the city, as you do in foreign countries, trying to figure out public transport and circumventing language differences and hoping to find some good food without yelp or recommendations. It wouldn't be like that this time around.

My Father, who had just flown in from England, was waiting for me as I walked out of customs and into the waiting area. We embraced for the first time in Hungary, our eighth country to share a hug, and then grabbed a taxi into the city.

After three years living in Budapest, my parents are headed back home, which isn't actually somewhere they have ever lived, but it's at least in relative proximity to where they used to call home before packing their bags for Europe. I'm here to help them pack. To enjoy meals at their favorite restaurants, to reflect over coffee, to walk their neighborhood and see the city through their experienced eyes.
Home for them is moving, but what a home it was.

On Saturday we made our way to the Freedom Bridge, which spans over the great Danube River and links the Buda side of Budapest to the Pest side of Budapest. My parents wanted to leave their mark on the city in the form of a love lock on the bridge, joining a multitude of other locks, which symbolize....forever love. :)

August 4, 2012

The last few days of our trip included a day fighting the crowds at Crater Lake National Park and two perfect days exploring the town of Ashland, OR.

Our cabin near Crater Lake ended up being a cinder block, smoke smell disaster, but it was almost worth it for one night to have these views and a free canoe for exploring the local river.

Crater Lake was beautiful, but until the kids are older and more mobile (i.e. they can hike more than a mile), the day was a mild let down. I think the droves of people made it difficult as well, especially coming off ten days exploring the Lost Coast, which we mostly had to ourselves.

We spent our time in Ashland playing in the creek that flows through the center of town and eating at delicious places like Mix. The lemon meringue pie was almost worth the entire trip to OR.