Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Old People (Continue to) Say
the Darndest Things

Conservatory Garden Mums
Fall Flowers in the Conservatory Garden

On Sunday afternoon, I climbed the six flights of stairs to my Scrabble friend’s Upper East Side apartment.  She is the primary reason I am traveling to Budapest and Vienna – I’m helping her write her memoirs, and I wanted to see both her Hungarian homeland and also the city where she briefly lived after slipping through the Iron Curtain during Hungary’s revolution in 1956.

Over a game of Scrabble, while we listened to classical music on her trusty cassette tape player, I tried to pump her for information about places she remembered visiting in Budapest and Vienna.  She mentioned a couple of sights in the former, but didn’t have much to say about the latter.

“I was a refugee in Vienna,” she explained, “I don’t remember much.  It’s all a blur.” 

Most of her memories of the city came from later trips, when she would travel to her hometown via Vienna.
"When I would go to visit Papá in the 1970's and 80's, I would usually fly into Vienna because it was closer to Papá than Budapest.  Also it was just easier to fly into Austria than Hungary."

"Because of the communists?" I asked.

"Yes,” she replied, “Because of all the communist
“Oh, right, I see.”
“Of course, I still had to deal with those a**-holes - forgive my French - on the train at the border-crossing, but it was easier."

“Right,” I said, “Sure.”  

I wonder if I can ever fully comprehend what it was like to live under communist rule.  I also wonder if I will ever be as full of vim and vigor as my 75-year old Scrabble friend.
She's a salty sailor, that one.

1 comment:

gotham Girl said...

Adorable! How fortunate she is to have you and for you to help her on this journey. Wow. I'm so in awe. Can't wait to read more...