Michael Thu Jun 16 16:55:08 2005|
Hungarian moment #n+1
We took my son to see the head of the pediatric nephrology research clinic here in Budapest. My wife went to a rather exclusive high school and her friends have ended up knowing a lot of useful people, being doctors and company CEOs and stuff. And of course this is the national capital of a nation of only 10 million people -- there are odd effects of scale here.
(As an aside, the nephrologist told us the same thing our Indiana pediatrician said: the kid ain't sick, he's just got some protein in his urine, and while it would be nice to nail down why, the risks of doing a biopsy on a perfectly healthy child aren't worth it. The difference is that seeing two nephrologists here and doing a complete blood workup and several urine collections took two weeks and cost us nothing, whereas in the States, if you can see a nephrologist at all it will be a three-month wait and it will cost you many hundreds of dollars. But hey, that's freedom for ya!)
But that's not what I wanted to note as my Hungarian moment.
We met my mother-in-law at the clinic. I had gone earlier to get the lab results from the previous day's urine collection before we met the doctor (I took my daughter to school and let my son get some more sleep at home) and so I met my mother-in-law earlier and we waited around at the subway station in the sun, waiting for my wife and son to show up. We talked a bit about nothing in particular, and then she told me that she never can go to the clinic area of town without remembering when she was 10 in 1956 during the rebellion and her mother sent her to her uncle's in that part of town because the fighting had already died down there and it was less dangerous than where they lived. And that they went sledding a lot because it was snowy, but there were a lot of corpses in the street... And that that had really made an impression on her, being 10 and all. We walked out to the bigger street next to the subway station where we were standing, and she showed me where exactly the corpses had been, and pointed up the street to where there had been a barracks which had been pretty well totally demolished in the fighting.
You know, as Americans it is difficult for us to comprehend violence happening anywhere except in our televisions, which is one thing which makes it so very easy for us to perpetrate it around the world. But when a woman you've known for 15 years shows you a very busy street in the summer sun where she saw dead people piled up in the snow when she was 10, well, that is a very potent moment indeed.
My dad actually told me a story once about martial law being declared in New Castle, Indiana, when he was a boy, due to a factory worker's strike which threatened to turn into an armed rebellion -- so maybe this wasn't strictly a Hungarian moment, but rather just one of those poignant encounters with history which can happen with no warning, sort of like my experiences living in Germany and marrying a Hungarian in 1986, the Official End of the Cold War and parties in the streets and governments falling all around and the first East German Trabants hitting the Bavarian border at 1 AM after a long haul across Austria, having been let through by Hungarian border guards who'd finally just fricking had enough of a divided Europe and had decided to do something decisive about it, and everybody in Germany watching on TV as they interviewed that first tired family in the middle of the night who'd actually managed to get out without getting shot at, and knowing -- knowing -- the world had abruptly changed again with no notice, no advance warning, and for once, the change was pretty darned good.
And you know? Europe fixed their own problems, even if it took them 500 years of killing each other to realize they really didn't want to keep doing that, and they still know they're in control of their fate. You can feel it here. Terrorism? Bah. Europe eats terrorists for breakfast. Europe had *Nazis*. Terrorists just don't stack up. So nobody really cares about this whole group psychosis that the United States has been going through -- they just get on with their lives and hope that when the US crashes, it's not going to take too much of the global economy with it. It's like a breath of fresh air to live here, fresh air I've really needed for a couple of years now.
Well. That was more of a random walk through semantic space than I'd intended. It's too late. I should be sleepingalsdjkf ;alsdjkf asdf +++NO CARRIER