Day 0-1/34 Eastern Europe Trip

As you know… this is a diary, so get ready for DETAILS. 🙂

Last night, after a short nap, we ventured around our neighborhood, hoping to find something delicious to eat. It didn’t take long, as we’re right in the city center, just off of Andrássy út. We found a place that promised “traditional Hungarian cuisine,” and were really pleased. We got a Hungarian meat plate that came with a traditional cottage cheese, Guylás, Stuffed Peppers with boiled potatoes, and Grilled Pork with Salad. It wasn’t the best Hungarian meal I’ve ever had, but it was really good after a long day of travel. 😉

Somehow when we got back to the apartment, The Boyfriend still had energy. I pretty much passed out while he organized some of his stuff.

Today: We slept in as much as we could. We organized a little bit more, and then headed out to a restaurant we found that was recommended online, Két Szerecsen. We were able to sit outside with Bartley, and WOW, the food was incredible. We had the Parasztreggeli (Peasant Breakfast) which was: Mangalitsa sausage, mangalitsa ham, hard-boiled egg, spicy collage cheese spread (called körözött – this is my new favorite thing!), red onion, green pepper, tomato, freshly squeezed orange juice, and a cappuccino. Sooo delicious. Nagyon finom! IMG_20180616_104413

After that, we were actually already ready for some time at home and a nap. 😀 So that’s what we did! In the late afternoon, we decided we wanted to head to Parliament. We saw a park on the way, which we thought would be a nice stop for Bartley. We also sopped for another cappuccino to help with the jet-lag. The park was in Szabadság Tér. It ended up being much more of a sight than we imagined: hundreds of people had gathered around a huge screen to watch the World Cup. There were TONS of food trucks as well. We grabbed a couple Sopronis to go and snapped a few photos.

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We ended up passing a monument next to a fountain. In front of the monument were many artifacts from the Post-WWII era. We were a little confused, and a Hungarian man directed us to an English article explaining what we were looking at. After reading it, we were able to go back to him and ask more questions. We were really grateful to have his insight, and that he took the time to explain to us the situation.

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Next, we headed to Parliament. I’ve seen it many times, but it’s always such an amazing sight to take in. Since it’s The Boyfriend’s first visit, he disappeared for a bit to capture many photos. IMG_8586.JPG

A little girl asked if she could pet Bartley. It always breaks my heart a little so say no, but Bartley can NOT be trusted with children. Then, her dad asked if she could take a picture with us, and I was super happy to oblige. IMG_4200.JPG

On the way back to our Airbnb, we stopped back at Szabadság Tér, to us the restroom and to try some cocktails to go. We traveled a little further, realized we were hungry again, and stopped at a nearby pub. The Boyfriend had his first shot of Pálinka, and we shared a delicious fried chicken breast with apple and a side of fries. Mmm…

At this point it was time – surprise surprise – for another nap! After, we went to the closest restaurant we could find and we had a late dinner: beer, wine, watermelon soup, croquettes and duck confit.

We had big plans to enjoy the night life on a Saturday night… but jet-lag had different plans, and it had actually turned into a pretty busy day for us. We called it an early-ish night, around midnight.

 

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What a Dog

I had the talk with my family. I didn’t stretch myself as much as I’d hoped, and at first I was really disappointed. However, I can now see that it was a step in the right direction, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I did my best, and I’m closer than ever before to being open an honest with them.

We made it to Budapest! All three of us, including my 12ish year old 14 pound dachshund mix! Dogs are truly amazing. My heart was full of gratitude to Bartley throughout this trip. It’s just overwhelming how much dogs trust us, and are capable of doing scary things they don’t understand, because of that love and trust.

It may seem crazy that we decided to bring him with us, but the last time I left him with friends or family for an extended amount of time, he got extremely sick. When I got home, he could hardly walk, and his fever kept getting worse for weeks. It took several weeks to figure out what was going on, and one night when he hadn’t left the closet for most of the day, we actually said our goodbyes to him. I didn’t think he would get better.

Bartley is such a fighter. He has survived heartworms, distemper and distemper related neurological problems like seizures and encephalitis. I got to see much of that fighting spirit on the long journey.

He is a senior guy, so the thought of leaving him for so long, especially after he got so sick last time, didn’t seem to be an option. However, the thought of taking him on such a long flight didn’t seem like the best idea either. He proved me wrong! From staying in his tiny kennel (on some sedatives) at my feet on the plane, to trekking it through airports, (somewhat drunkenly) sometimes up stairs that must’ve looked like mountains to him, this dog was by my side. He was 100% in it, because even though he didn’t understand what was going on, he trusted in me.

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Perhaps the most beautiful moment was the night before we left. I was rummaging through my luggage… and he ran and got inside of his travel kennel. This is something he has NEVER done before.

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He had to tell me – you’re taking me with you this time. ❤️

And, beyond all of these more serious positive qualities he has, he also just has the most fantastic personality, as pictured below: Stretched out on the couch, mini tennis ball, in mouth, ready to play.

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Mimosas in the AM, Fettuccine Alfredo in the PM

Wow, I am so happy we pushed through yesterday and got so much done. The main thing left to do is – pack! We’re getting super excited about our trip to Hungary, Slovakia, The Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia. We leave on Thursday! We were actually able to relax some today, and it was amazing.

I saw two of my best friends today. I was really glad to spend some time with them before leaving, and that it was on a day when I was less stressed, and better able to connect. Yay for mimosas in the morning with one, and homemade fettuccine alfredo in the evening with the other! Feelin’ spoiled. (I haven’t forgotten about my goal to lose 30 pounds by January 1, 2019. Working on figuring out how to indulge responsibly. I welcome any tips or reading material!)

Not much to write about today. Still thinking about the (possible) upcoming talk with my family. I’m dreading it, dreading even thinking about it, really.

Today was a three point day.

Closer to Being Ready

This goes for my upcoming trip, and the talk I need to have with my family before I go. Our place is almost ready for our Airbnb guests, which means we’ve (finally) made the whole place more comfortable, and we managed to declutter! Areas that have had random piles for months (or even years?) are finally open, and it feels so good. Everything seems to have a home which is amazing as well. We’ve been working really hard though, and are definitely exhausted. We only have a few more steps to go, the lengthiest of which is going to be to actually pack for our trip, AND pack up our personal belongings so our guests don’t feel too much like they’re sleeping in someone else’s room. 🙂

As for the family part… well, I got it all down on paper, and that’s something. I even told my dad and brother I want to meet with them on my brother’s next day off, so if I do have the guts to say all of this, there’s actually a set time to say it. Worst case scenario, we just have lunch instead.

Why am I so scared? I guess it has to do with acceptance. I want to know they’re going to agree with me, even before I say the things I need to say. I’m worried they won’t like what I have to say, and may become upset or argue, and I won’t be able to stand up for what I know to be true. Part of me is also really afraid they’re going to say, we’re sorry you feel that way, and I’ll be left to follow my word, which is that if that’s the case, I have to step away for a while.

I need to know that that’s a possibility before going into this conversation. I’ve worked really hard the last few years to build up a healthy life and supportive community outside of my family, and have come to accept that under most circumstances, no matter how scary, I really am going to be okay. That doesn’t mean the prospect of losing closeness with my family isn’t difficult to stomach.

I sort of forgot to keep track of my points last week, so since it’s Sunday, I’ll just start over today. 🙂 Today was a 2 point day.

The Ability to Change

I felt really negative about things yesterday. Finding out how much weight I’ve gained really brought me down. But I want to reiterate what I discovered towards the end of my post: It really is possible! If there’s one thing I’ve learned this decade, it’s that I am capable of change. I owe myself that tiny bit of trust it takes to know that I can overcome this obstacle too. And let’s face it, it’s WAY bigger than just looking good. I want to feel good, and know that I’m treating my body right.

I leave on Thursday for a fantastic trip with the boyfriend. We’re headed to Hungary, my home away from home where I spent 9+ months just after college. This is truly the place where I stood on my own two feet for the first time, expressed myself for the first time, grew to love and trust myself for the first time. I’ve been back one other time with my now ex-husband. It was different, but still amazing. I think this time will be the best yet. 🙂 (For more of my Hungarian experiences, read this, or this, or check out my very first baby blog!) We will also be venturing to Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia – in that order. I can’t wait to share more! Things have been really busy preparing, as we decided to Airbnb our own place while we’re gone, and it wasn’t the slightest bit “guest ready.” Things have been moving along nicely though.

To switch to a completely unrelated topic: Family. We spend our childhood just going with the flow, because what else is there to do? And then we reach adulthood, and we’re blind-sided not only by our responsibilities and the awkwardness of it all, but also by all this shit we have to undo, this garbage we never knew was a big deal, but it actually is. Anyone know what I’m talking about?

A lot of my process has been setting boundaries with my mom… and then my dad (unexpectedly) and now, even more unexpectedly, my brother. My mom suffers from mental health issues. My dad is in many ways her enabler (or maybe disabler?) of the dependent, helpless life she lives. My brother moved back to Austin a few years ago, and had honestly stayed as unaware of the situation as he possibly could for a very long time – despite many efforts on my part to tell him, to ask for support. Now, he’s very aware of it and feels totally stuck. It seems like he’s finally where I was here, here, and here, but instead of it manifesting as panic attacks, he’s coping with it in different, equally difficult ways.

The moral of the story is I need to rethink those boundaries, and hopefully communicate them before this trip, if I have the guts to. I want everyone to work towards happiness so we can enjoy life, and therefore each other, even more. But for now, it seems like they’re stuck in their own painful, ineffective patterns, and I’ve tried so many times to communicate things that could help. They’ve never listened before, or never listened enough to make change. I have to get the courage to try one more time.

Moving Abroad

Andras and I have been talking more seriously about not spending the rest of our lives in the great state of Texas. The truth is, while Texas is great and yes, my family is here, if you’ve been following closely, you know this isn’t really my home. It’s taken me a while to understand, but I do recognize that I could find fulfillment anywhere if I was true to my awesome self. I don’t have to live in a some magical place in order to find that. I know it’s all up to me.

But being away from my home town, getting some space between me and my family, would certainly help. I’ve already distanced myself from certain friends that I struggle being myself around.

But why leave the country? I love and feel very comfortable in most of the European countries I’ve visited. I also click more easily with the Europeans I’ve met than I do with Americans. A LOT more easily. But honestly, this one comes down to Andras. He’s just not happy here. He’s not the same, confident energized guy here. He’s depressed here and it’s affected all aspects of his life and many aspects of our life together.

So, we’ve done more than just talk about it. We’ve set goals for what we each want to accomplish, listed what we need to accomplish/do together before we can make the big move. Right now we’re thinking Rotterdam, The Netherlands where Andras did a student exchange. A place with some of the best architecture in the world, mild, rainy weather year-round, tolerant people, and bike lanes galore. 🙂 I should probably visit first though. Don’t worry! That’s on list too. It’s looking like a 5-year plan right now. We also have a couple USA cities to visit too, just to keep our options open.

So, what made me share all of this? I’m waiting for Andras to finish up a meeting, and I found a coffee shop next door. (Actually a espresso / gelato specialty place – man I wish my digestive system wasn’t so angry!) Being in this new place, all by myself, a few people speaking a different language, is taking me back to that feeling of being in a new place. A place where no one knows me, and I can just be.

I know I can always just be, but since it’s a constant struggle for me, I appreciate the chance for it to be easier than usual.

I’m looking forward to this future with Andras, and I’m also happy to be reminded of what it’s like to travel somewhere alone. It is so quiet, so liberating. It’s one of the best feelings I’ve ever experienced. And I’m grateful for that.

Time For Good-bye?

In less than an hour, András’ parents will take us to Budapest. It will be time to tell them good-bye for another year, maybe only 6 months if we’re lucky and can come back for Christmas.  András is already noticeably sad. I wonder how bad it will be when we get home?

We went to visit one of his Nagyi’s yesterday (Grandma), and it was so sad  because she’s really sick. András truly believes that might have been his last visit to see her.

I am going to miss the lifestyle, the language, the people, his parents, his cousins, his grandma’s, and my friends, who either live here in Hungary or close by.

My feelings haven’t changed much, and can still be summed up with Home  and Time is Funny, but one thing has changed.

How can I make my home feel more like home? Logically, I believe the answer to be entirely within myself, but experience doesn’t show that to be true.

AfterI wrote the last post and was obviously feeling pretty negative about going back, I continued to walk around Kecskemét. I had a memory: Hungary didn’t pull the real me out of myself on it’s own. I made a conscious decision before I left to be myself in a place where I could start completely over, where no one from my past would be comparing my actions to past experiences. To trust that I was pretty awesome on my own, and didn’t need to act a certain way or seek others’ approval to be great. To be happy.

So, while there are things that I can’t change about home, like superficial people or the architecture (not to mention politics), I can bake fresh bread, I can co to the market on Saturdays, I can walk and bike everywhere, I can speak Hungarian,

and I can be me.