Hello America. And other countries.
Ugh. I am so sleepy. My stomach is full of sugar and wheat. I don’t really want to talk to you right now, America-and-other countries. I want to lie starfished on the pavement and have turtles stampede over my body. That would take some moments to arrange though, and you are right here right now, so I guess I’ll talk to you.
Muh. Guh. I will tell you where I am. I am in a coffee shop, like every other unemployed twenty something on a Tuesday. It is dark like a romantically lit cave. There is a palm tree outside the open door. Hell, it might be two palm trees. There are artistic black and white photos of the sartorially non-traditional over my head. There is a mural on the opposite wall of a sideways bearded blue man with tiny Swedish boots, a third eye, and an elongated torso. I am over-caffeinated. In the non-linear hamster wheel inside this skull, the answer to that seems to be more coffee, but I am sly and canny and I look at this proposition from all sides. It is suspect.
Pretty long legged girls with flash tattoos sprinkled up their limbs. People look different here than they do in Minnesota. People in Minnesota retreat away from their own faces. They live somewhere way back and down in their own bodies, and you have to dig very softly and gently in order to find them without scaring them down deeper. New Orleanians live in their faces. Not afraid of their own skin. Seems dangerous to me. Brave and dangerous.
O ye Northern countries, it is 70 DEGREES HERE. And going to get hot again. Enjoy your cocoa. Enjoy your damned leg warmers and marshmallows and snow pants and candlelight and know that I will be sitting on a bare floor in my underpants, swearing.
Lord, my own sweet sylph has arrived, I’m staring at him unblinking like a murderer while I type and it scares him. He’s a dandy and not unusual down here. Three piece suits, a hat for everyman and hankies sprouting like hibiscus flowers.
Egad! A independent and alert dog just appeared in the doorway. An excessively normal dog. A central casting sort of dog. Brown eyes. White paws. A spy, no doubt.
Oh man, I just realised there’s a tiny door in the blue man’s belly with a black tear drop on its centre. It’s probably the breaker box, but maybe it is the blue man’s tiny gestating fairy babies and if I opened it it would be full of blue light and blinking sleepy fat floating little marshmallows with spiky white eyebrows and blue hair. I’m not going to open it, just to preserve the dream. I probably should. I should probably disabuse myself. But I won’t.
OKAY LEMME TELL YOU ‘BOUT BudaPESHT. It is a city that I arrived in some time ago for a couple of days. We rolled up in our trans European bus to a place that was pretty much just a spot on the sidewalk. No distinguishing features. I dithered getting my enormous terrible backpack out of the busbowels, and we sat on all our luggage and octopused our instruments while we tried to figure out what to do. It had not occurred to either of us to really look at a map, or learn anything about Hungary, or find out where we were going. This was a fearful thing once we were on a slick strip of nothing in the middle of a foreign country with no dang internet or phone service. Aaron blew my mind and warmed my heart by asking another human being with his words. She was a nice young woman, possibly a Dane, I’ve forgotten now, and pointed us to the metro (approx. 100 feet away from us) and told us where to go and which stop was most likely to yield coffee and humans. We thudded down into the metro and he was all for eeling through without tickets, but in some ways I am a fearful and rulebound mouse, and so we bought too many. But they were checking so it was good and I got to feel smug and superior, and then immediately guilty and bad, but still superior for my excellent and rapid acting morality, and then just confused and weird because I was too tired and moral superiority can only take so much.
INTERLUDE: A small boy just rocketed past out side yelling “PAPPAPPAP” and the green eyebrowed twenty four year old smoking on the bench said, “Whooooah, well, that’s the youth these days.”
BACK TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED (that’s not true, is it) PROGRAMMING–
Oh yeah, and we had no money either. They didn’t take euro. Their currency is the forint. We found a bank atm and gathered our wits and girded our loins in its shelter. We also did not know how much the forint was worth. So we took out many many forints. (I was left with many forints in Istanbul.)
Keep in mind that we have no plan. This is a planless day. Aaron knows one person who lives here but can’t contact her because internet. We’re going to try to find a hostel. We have arrived, all shiny and fresh (LIES, WE WERE FILTHY) in this new city. We will allow the plan to make us. Which is a good practice but my God it makes you tired.
But, fortunately for us, there was a cafe, and there was juice and coffee and oh sweet gentle mercy, a bathroom, and kindly if scary-faced baristas. It was arranged without reference to me (I was bulgey-eyed tired and getting resentful. Oh, and it was my birthday. And I wanted a bed to be in right now) that we would meet Aaron’s friend Lulu. Aaron buggered off to find cigarettes (unsuccessful, it was Sunday and they are a god-fearing people) and I sat on my cushion, hating the American girls across the room from me who were talking piercingly about spirituality and going with the flow. (I apologise, American girls, I probably would have liked you if I were rested.)
Lulu invited us over and we walked through Budapest. It was lovely and dirty and full of all different people speaking all different languages (as opposed to Vilnius, which was lovely and clean and full of white people speaking English and Lithuanian). I did not appreciate it properly until later that day, but on I walked until we arrived at a door sandwiched between a Thai massage place and a bar. We entered the given door code. It did not work. We entered it again. Time after time. I stood like a sullen lump. And then lo, she appeared! Like an angel in a sweater and boots! And other stuff, not just those things. I was feeling horribly shy and out of place and generally at odds with the world, so I ninny-simpered when we were introduced. I have spent the last four minutes trying to make a gay Marine joke out of Simper Ninny, but nothing is coming.
We went through a hallway into an open courtyard with apartments towering up all around us and fat blue sky sitting on top. We shuffled carefully, with all attendant bags and baggage, into the tiniest elevator in the world. A fine, rickety, exposed-gears affair with two sets of doors and morgue coloured lighting. I got to be very fond of that elevator, not merely as an alternative to five flights of stairs, but as a bold little beast in and of itself.
I do not distinctly recall meeting any of the people who lived there. I just remember getting into the bed in a cold room and lying there, roiling inside my head. You see, I had had approximately 10 doses of caffeine in the past 15 hours. I don’t think I slept. Maybe. Maybe a little.
TO BE CONTINUED!