I’d catch any bus that starts with the number nine just to enjoy the city, traversing through the charm and crudeness from up and above. I find it to be one of the few effective ways to appreciate the concrete jungle. It gets too ugly being down and grounded. Crowded, polluted, expensive; angry, impatient, repressed. Too loud and blunt, yet too subservient and enslaved. We are no longer the colonized, yet we wish to be. We crave freedom, yet we imprison ourselves.
I wish nothing more than leaving this place for a good while. I am not escaping; I am in search of something. Something that will bring the courage, wisdom and knowledge to feed the soil I call home.
It was a blue Sunday with clouds casting over our roof. The foggy, misty weather could be the reason for my blues, except there’s more to my sadness. It’s an indescribable emptiness that has filled up my heart for the last six months since I returned from Budapest.
“Don’t come back with your half-human life like last time,” father said with rage.
“I’d rather die a half-life than staying here,” I retorted.
“What exactly are you going to do and learn out there?
“Exactly. I have no idea.”
I was right from the start. I still cannot put into perspective what I have learned out there. It was a spring dream with a wild thunderstorm that awakened something inside of me. Since my return, I have felt better, and I have felt worse. I tried meditating; I tried dog walking; I tried working out and up and down; I tried talking it out to friends and therapists.
Last Saturday, we tried our last resort: the church.
“I am disconnected from Him. I used to cry and embrace His love. Now I just thought all of you who sang to his grace are drugged out by a kind of love that is simply not available outside this secluded shelter in a corner of this sickening city,” my dear friend said.
I thought some kind of spiritual experience would wake us up from the daily coma. It did in a way, maybe reinforcing how lonely, empty we are deep inside. I am susceptible to the energy of my surroundings: apathetic, numb and hollow. I suppose the only material and idea I can hold onto really is the stacks of paper: to get me in and out of the city again.
“Like a machine,” he said with mere emotions. “I am just bored of the day-to-day grind.”
While I could relate, I also could not help but think how spoiled we would sound to an average joe with average resources. I was teased by my privileged glimpses of the city because of my upper-middle-class background. It is almost as if any complaints would be considered inconsiderate. At work, when I looked across the table and saw how my co-worker devoured plain bread for lunch, my unintended, hypocritical guilt would rise, perhaps out of sympathy and self-centeredness.
She’s still in my head, the special soul who welcomed me to her home with open arms. She lifted me up from the limbo state. A beautiful, lively yet just a tiny bit neurotic woman. “I cannot accept that I cannot see the moon,” she made me laugh on the first night we met outside an open restaurant in the city core.
“I cannot accept how corrupt and disappointing this dictator is. I cannot accept that the taxpayer’s money doesn’t go to education and healthcare but the pockets of the local government,” she said with such a strong conviction.
I wish I knew more about Hungarian politics so I could properly converse with her on the subject, but perhaps it is this unaccepting attitude that drew me to her soul. In my usual spiritual practice, acceptance is emphasized. But for someone like her to speak with such passion in her dissatisfaction, I was moved by her passion and authenticity.