The thing about Budapest that gets me the most is how perfect everything is – at least to me. The grandiosity of it all is something else entirely; except without that whole pretentious part. It’s big. Really big. I mean it was originally two cities and then they just said, “the hell with it – Budapest sounds a hell of a lot better than just ‘pescht’ or ‘buda’.” I’m sure that’s how the historians remember it as well – eat your heart out, Zinn.
There’s so much detail I cannot even begin to explain. Not because I lack the words, but it is like my brain is having a memory buffer overflow error. That thing that happens when your computer hasn’t been shut off in forever and is just slow and programs crash all the time, yeah, that. Budapest is not for the faint of heart. It is sensory perception overload. From the cobblestones, to the pre and post war architecture (80% of Budapest was levelled during World War II), to the churches that rival anything I’ve seen in Austria so far (Melk, I’m coming for you tomorrow).
In layman’s terms it’s Disneyland the first time you saw Disneyland – and hopefully when you were little so the effect is as hyperbolic as my somewhat accurate portrayal of Budapest (sans those summer time lines as well). It’s the city you want to spend at least a week in, as I’m sure you can see a lot of it in 3 days – you will want to relax and repeat some of the experiences the other 4. And as it was summer, most schools and universities were out on holiday – so it felt like the epicenter of European twenty-somethings. Maybe they know something we don’t. Maybe Tijuana is overrated, or maybe Europeans actually do have class – maybe we just do our best to imitate class.
Emerson wrote, “Envy is ignorance, imitation is suicide.” I don’t argue that point at all, but I also don’t think I have to envy them either. For America, everything was inherited. We are a collective pot of culture and ethnicity, religion and spirituality. We are, after all, only two-hundred years old – and some change. Though age is no excuse for immaturity and erratic behavior. I’ve been to Europe more times than I can count, and the one thing I’ve seen – at least in Austria – is that everyone seems to be so down to earth. So chill. Budapest is no different. I’m sure people get into things. I’m sure there’s crime – there sure as hell is some poverty. It just has a different pace, a different beat, but to a similar melody. It’s like remembering what a 4/4 beat was after being submersed in electronic dance music for a decade.
Everything in America is so fast. Fast food, fast cars, fast women – and men. Fast paced, no break, no vacation, no rest, no relenting – capitalistic America. And when you get away from that, even for a brief period of time (three days so far for me) you start to see what Americans are missing. I am not going to say, we are that far lacking. We have offer a hell of a lot to the world, and the United States isn’t without its own majesty (Cascades to Yosemite). It just feels… I don’t know.
Necessary. Necessary to experience this. To know that you stand in a place that has more history than all your family members could hope to remember about their genealogy. It has survived and endured not one, but two World Wars – and tons of other conquests and skirmishes. We only participated, and for the most part, from the comfort of our isolated continent. Don’t let my quick wit and offhand remarks lead you to believe that I devalue the loss of American lives lost in these wars. It’s just one thing to give up your sons, and another entirely when theirs bombs falling overhead of the place you’re on your knees praying for each night that they come home safely. There is no comparison here. Europe had it worse. The end.
Though being here, even in my sleep deprived state (and I’m very sleep deprived), I just have this feeling. Feeling like this won’t be the last thing to stop me in my tracks. Feeling like I won’t be the same again. Feeling the need to visit this place – and visit it often. Most of all, visit it with someone special. Yes, I’m here with my family. That is special. My grandfather is pushing 93. He walked miles today. He’s a trooper. He wasn’t even 18 when Hitler invaded Germany. He was my dad’s age, when my dad left for America, when World War II finally ended. He lived through the Iranian Revolution. He lost a son. That’s another story for another time. He’s old, get it? My cousin is roughly eight. I say roughly because I held her after she was born, but frankly I don’t remember when that was – sometime in the past decade. I’m a horrible person, I know. So for her to keep up an entire day, and do it calmly with no outbursts is something literally unseen in America these days.
My mom, my aunt, and my father were all with us as well. It’s hard being a Ghannadan. For the most part my dad is the most sociable, outgoing, charismatic person I know. He will have a conversation with literally anyone, get them to tell him their story, get them to open up to him. Make friends anywhere. He’s a polyglot – meaning he speaks a lot of languages. Rightfully so, as he speaks internationally at leadership development conferences and business building seminars. He’s a leader and a strategist. I figure if my life was like Game of Thrones, we would be pretty well off as my dad would always have the upper hand advantage. He would always be three moves ahead of you.
Next to my sister, my mom is the strongest woman I know. My parents, together, are the strongest couple I know. They are the sole reason why I believe I can still have forever with another person. That it is obtainable. That relationships can be made to last, and last through the absolute worst situations. The situations that you just wouldn’t want to fathom or wish upon others. The thing is, when you put all of us together, more often than naught, a car can become a pressure cooker. So many strong personalities – and if we don’t have a written down plan, and exact accord detailing our every move, and we have to leave things up to interpretation (I don’t know, like driving in an unknown place – oh, say Budapest!), my parents can’t even agree if a GPS is correct in its navigational ability.
So I won’t say I’m alone. I’m not alone in that sense.