In Budapest

I’m sitting in the California Coffee Company near Kálvin tér, in Budapest. I come here to have my morning latte, and to use the free wifi. The latte here is very strong, the strongest I’ve ever had. A Starbucks latte is not in the same category.

I haven’t posted for a long time, partly because I’ve been so busy and partly because my life feels as though it’s in such turmoil right now. Have you ever had times in your life when you’ve felt as though you’re in transition? Well, that’s where I am right now, only I don’t know where I’m in transition to. I know where I’ve come from: finishing my PhD, moving into the city. Changing my life in a fundamental way. I remember what it felt like before that, while I was still finishing the PhD: the sense of stasis, as though I could not get out. The stillness, and the desperation that accompanied it. And now I’m in the storm, it’s not still anymore. Only, I don’t know where this particular craft is sailing. There’s new land somewhere, but I have no idea where it is or what it will look like.

These thoughts were prompted in part by looking in the mirror this morning. It was the hall mirror in my grandmother’s apartment, and it had been there since I was a child. Which means that when I was four years old, I looked in that mirror. Who could ever have imagined, then, that I would be back, at this age? Looking into that mirror again, so different and yet that little girl, all grown up. I could never have predicted my own life.

Which means that I probably can’t predict what’s going to happen either, even in the next year.

But right now I’m sitting here, having just drunk my latte and feeling a little shaky (it’s so strong, and I’ve been up since 4:00 a.m. Budapest time, because the birds at dawn are so loud). I thought I would post some pictures of the apartment. If you want to see more pictures of my trip, go look at my Facebook page. I’m posting a bunch of them there.

So first, let’s walk down the street. Do you see the coffee shop on the right? That’s where I am right now.


We enter the apartment building through this corridor, large enough to admit carriages (which may be what it did at one time). It leads to a central courtyard, but we’re going to go up the stairs.


They are stone stairs, and have looked exactly the same since I was a child. Getting my suitcase up them was probably the hardest part of my entire trip! (Of course, I was exhausted by then. I hadn’t slept all night.)


Let’s pause in the hall and take a picture of me in the mirror. Yes, this is the hall mirror that caused such introspection.


And here we are. The apartment is furnished exactly the way it was when my grandmother was living here. (She died several years ago.) Sometimes I think about how beautiful it could be, with those high ceilings. It’s not beautiful now, but it’s nice to be back here.


This morning, I called the shuttle company and reserved my shuttle to the airport tomorrow, when I’m heading to London. I will spend a week there, and then go to Oxford, then Glastonbury, then a small village called Chagford in Devon. Whenever I complain, and I certainly do complain, I remind myself how fortunate I am to have the life I do, to be able to do the things I do. There are things I want that I don’t currently have: safe harbor is one of them. But I think they’ll come? I just have to wait. And hope.

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11 Responses to In Budapest

  1. Danny O'Dare says:

    Chagford – just down the road from me! (ie, Newton Abbot).

  2. Jon Awbrey says:

    Many thanks for sharing your adventures with us. It’s almost like being there❢

  3. I think what you call safe harbor is what I call golden times. Those are the times all
    is in order and work is play and playing is the work. But they shift. One golden time
    changes like a magic trick and one is off balance a while until the next golden time
    is suddenly, magically, a new true time. Sort of like being on a shifting ship, and yes,
    again, safe harbor. Looking forward to following your travels and new discoveries!

    • Theodora Goss says:

      Phyllis, I think for me it’s more a sense of basic stability. I don’t need everything to be in order or work to be play, necessarily. I just want a house to live in that I feel as though I might live in for a while, not somewhere I know I’ll be moving from in the near future. Ground to stand on . . .

      • Ah, I see, For a while I had such a Gypsy life I had one suitcase and one
        box. I was looking for stability but it took a long time. I am amazed I am
        surrounded with all my treasures in my studio now. I wish the same for

      • I don’t mean I wish you my magical studio aery. I know you wish for a beautiful magical woodsy cottage for all you treasures and pleasures.
        We are all wishing that for you.

  4. Dana says:

    Wm. Bridges’ book Transitions has been the biggest help for me for decades when I am feeling pushed, dragged or thrown into a new situation. I’m with you: It is the so-called latent or stagnant stage in the middle that is most unsettling. Rather like the caterpillar/butterfly alone, in the dark, in the cocoon. Feeling weird, but not remembering the past, nor seeing the future.

  5. Thanks for the good wishes, Phyllis, and thanks for the recommendation, Dana. I’ll have to look for the book! Yes, the being in the dark part is hard. Transitions are like deaths (rites of passage are always symbolic deaths, according to anthropologists), and the death part, the being underground before being reborn part, is definitely the hardest.

    • Over the years, I have invented rituals for events of loss and
      new beginnings. Music, meditation, sometimes with friends;
      no candles though. too risky with still frisky 12 year of orange and white cat.

  6. L. Marie says:

    Good luck on everything. It’s so hard and yet exciting to be in transition!

  7. Nice to see your post up again!
    I’m at that moment too in my life where I have no safe harbor but somehow, I believe everything would be fine.
    You’d be fine too, and I think you should enjoy every moment and all the places you travel to… maybe sometimes, the essence of life lies in the sailing, not the harbor.

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