“I think about death a lot.” I told Sarah. Maybe this is dark, but “sometimes I become hyperaware of our mortality. One day I will no longer live in this world, so I am so grateful whenever I get to see one more thing before I go.” I do not mean this in a morbid way. It is more matter-of-fact with a touch of poetry. Sarah and I spent our last fifteen minutes in Budapest reflecting in front of the Parliament building while I sipped my lactose-free latte. We were waiting for Kristen to finish her souvenir shopping. “I am trying to spend as much money as I can!” Kristen said when we went to get her. It was a funny scenario. But not funnier than our morning adventure…
Simone went back to Madrid before we woke up on our last day. Kristen, Sarah, and I had until 2:00 pm before the taxi picked us up. We walked the bridge over to Margaret Island – right in the middle of the Danube River. We were ready for more sightseeing after a delicious, fancy, Hungarian eggs breakfast. Margaret Island was a summer land complete with families, couples, friends, all having fun. People were wearing shorts, riding bicycles, or getting soaked in the fountain.
We followed the suggestion of Sarah’s friend, and rented a three person bicycle. Then that magical thing happened. You know, the thing. That mysterious thing that makes you so present – so happy. You don’t realize it is happening until it’s over. We rode our three-person red bike through the busy park street, singing the classics like no one was listening (for visual aid, watch Sarah’s YouTube video: Three-person biking in Budapest – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ao_1jDXpTmQ&noredirect=1 ). It was very childish in the best possible way. I did not feel judged as can often occur when being loud and obnoxious in public places. We were happy, and people seemed to understand that. I looked around, and people smiled back like they were happy, too.
After a good couple hours getting lost in LaLa Land, we walked back to the Parliament eating popsicles. An extraordinary morning disguised in a corny, inexpensive bike ride. I left Budapest different than I had arrived. This city opened up a new door to further adventures, reminding me of who I’ve been and adding on some more. Sarah told me, during our reflective chat by the Parliament, that when she travels to a new place she feels like she is acquiring new qualities for someone to love some day. I do not know if I took any particular thing from Budapest. But before visiting I was completely loyal to living in Madrid, and certain I would stay there for many years. I still adore Madrid, but Budapest reminded me I don’t have to stay there forever. I am bound nowhere and everywhere. Like Saint Théresè of Lisieux once said, “I choose all.”
“I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.” – Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
*Follow Sarah’s adventures in Spain, Morocco, Budapest, and the United States https://sarahrosekelly.wordpress.com/