And just like that I’m back here recounting my two weeks in Europe. The familiarity of this chair, this computer, plays tricks on my mind. As if the little eternities and suspended spaces of time didn’t happen. Two weeks: it sounds so parochial. So not encompassing of what that time actually was to me.
I suppose it would make sense for me to write about this trip because, most days, I consider myself a writer. But what do I write about? The restaurants? Oh yes, I ate all very good things and saw some beautiful restaurants.
But if I wrote about the restaurants then I couldn’t write about everything else.
I couldn’t tell you how I’m still processing what it meant to visit the neighborhood where my mother grew up in the thick of communism. I couldn’t tell you about sitting in mass at the church where my parents got married. I couldn’t tell you about seeing my Hungarian family without my grandmother and trying to grasp the enormity of what it meant for my mother to move across the ocean and start a new life. A new life that was told through pictures and sporadic telephone calls and even more sporadic trips home.
I also couldn’t tell you about the first time I heard my niece and nephew say my name and recognize my face. And what it meant to see them smile at me every morning in Budapest.
I couldn’t tell you about the physicality of Amsterdam. How its seemingly endless amount of 4-story buildings hug you and invite you into their cafes. How traffic is dense but it’s found on two wheels and sounds like the ding of a bell. How it’s the most alive city I’ve ever seen.
I couldn’t tell you about how I witnessed one of the biggest gay pride festivals ON EARTH. And how I cried tears of joy and sadness simultaneously. Joy for those who felt free and sadness for the fact that I still live in a world that continues to hate/shun/criminalize/demoralize human beings.
I couldn’t tell you how as we were on one of our daily walks in Amsterdam Mike turned to me and told me “you don’t have to process everything.” And then I told him that I was scared if I didn’t process everything it won’t be real.
But my fear has come true. There are missing pieces, blurry memories, frozen words out of context, and emotions that drift through – seemingly not anchored to anything.
Maybe it’s better this way. Because any amount and combination of words I throw up here will drip and sanitize – like a splash of soapy water – the emotions and experiences of this trip, however scattered and surreal some of them are. Maybe it’s best to just put up some images I took and suspend the craving to tell you everything – to tell myself everything – and trust that it all happened and is still happening in its own way.