Thursday, October 6, 2011

The bright side

I behave fairly well in public. Even in the worst of moods smiles and small talk flow easily.

But as certain family members can testify, I have been a real handful at home lately.

I suppose moody would cover it, with lists of complaints that could rival a whiny child.

So for the sake of my family (one member in particular) I will put aside my gripes and spend the next fifteen minutes or so looking on the bright side.

Cause while I long for the land of family and friends, peanut butter and full-sized bags of jalapeno-flavored Tostitos, there are things I love about life here.

1. I love how children ride bikes everywhere. If they are old enough to walk they are old enough to bike. Strollers retreat in favor of small, plastic push-bikes, on which even the tiniest children fly past you on the village sidewalks, parents trailing behind. Our boys quickly adapted to this favored mode of transportation, and spend some of their happiest moments pedaling and pushing through the square, joyfully cruising down hills and avoiding near collisions with quick, surprisingly skilled turns.

2. Public transportation. It doesn’t matter where we go, museums, restaurants, the bathroom… if our kids can ride the tram, or better yet, the underground train, that is all they need. Kid-friendly trips to the city are no more difficult than parking our car and utilizing Budapest’s easy (if not stroller-friendly) public transportation system.

3. School. The beautiful grounds, caring teachers, and most importantly, the large, well-equipped playground create a kind of haven for our family. A place we can send our son knowing he is treasured and nurtured by an exceptional teacher who displays more patience with ten three year-olds than I ever did with one. A place I can grab a cappuccino and connect with the world while we just barely survive month number two in our dark-age home. And of course a place where my language of choice does not place me in the small, annoying minority, but allows for free and successful communication.

4. I love that there are more sources of free, child-friendly entertainment than there is time to enjoy. Fantastical playgrounds, miles of bike paths, mini zoos, sprawling castles. And for a small price, a railroad manned entirely by children, year-round circus, world-renowned zoo, tropical aquarium… all within the city limits. For someone inclined to boredom, I must stifle complaints that there is, quite simply, too much to do.

5. Our family. It is hard to explain, because we are the same family that left Indiana, Pennsylvania just two months ago. But also, we’re not. This place is changing us. Aiden is more independent. Finn, more opinionated and strong-willed. Joel, more adventurous (if that is possible). And me. As Joel put it the other day, I am more brave. Not because I try for or even desire bravery, but simply because I am forced. I must drive my manual car through the steep, narrow streets of the Buda Hills. I must acquire food for my family, furniture for our home, shoes for the freakishly fast-growing feet of my children. So I venture into a foreign world, brave public transportation, butcher the language, and navigate a country and people that are not home. And as much as I may not want to, I have to, and that simple fact is shaping me, and it is shaping our family.

So while I long for this place to feel like home, I realize we are in transition. It is slow, and sometimes painful, but it is changing us.

And in the meantime, we keep moving, because we have to, but also because we want to. It might not be home yet, but it is a pretty cool place for the interim.

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