While I rush to catch the tube, my eyes feel attacked by its strong yellow. Why such as solid colour in this city of washed out but not yet faded shades? I spent the afternoon in Retrock. Scrutinising vintage shops has now become a ritual of my urban religion that I cannot avoid. Sometimes I think that my attachment to the past is a genetic trait that indissolubly ties me to Budapest.
Tomorrow I will start working and you will move to another city. An agency hired me as a tour guide. I wonder how I will be able to understand that this city, with its pastel colours, can be so majestic in its eternal procession. An old lady sitting opposite me stares at the guide on my lap. “Budapest” she mutters.
Then she starts talking like she was praying: “Since I was born, I have been breathing its oriental atmospheres, perceived its distant Turkish heritage, the solemnity of the empire and the horrors of two world wars.”
“The desire to emancipate from the communism and the inevitable contamination of the capitalism” - I think.
Maybe this woman is the prophet I was waiting for.
“You know, young lady, - the old lady carried on - walking along the streets of Budapest is like standing in front of multiple truths. The truths appear at the right moment or we experience them.”
And this is how it is. Some days seem to intertwine in the wave of the city harmony, some others seem dogmas that demand faith, and some others very heavy question marks.
This is Budapest: meeting point and imposition, possibility and need. This is why I love how easy it is to exchange the currency. We can choose between florins and euros, between the Hungarian tradition and the European breath. Fast and reversible currency conversions and reversions. I would like to imagine that, with the same simplicity, our past resentments could have been converted in new opportunities.
How many few times we really met and how much more often we imposed ourselves on each other?
We spent our adolescence in the labyrinths of the ruined pubs, where no room is the same to another and every room is full of used objects. Every corner is the past that decorates and completes and the present that welcomes already lived stories. Bicycles, signs, road signs, entangled cables, tables with no legs, old armchairs, screens, rugs, lamps and lights. That was a pondered confusion because every object was out of its context and we felt we did not share that feeling of common belonging. I wonder if we are lucky to be born in this city or if it was Budapest to mould our complexity.
This is why I can’t believe that you will move. I wish I could shout “your place is here”, I would hug you this time - I know I never do it - because, even if I try to think of the right words for a ‘goodbye’, in my heart this meeting is a ‘goodbye forever’. Something tells me that there will be no future comparable to our past, that this is not about weighting memories but comparing the reality with the life you passed down to me. You were the only one to understand the reason of my continuous changes, the only one to accept them for real. Even when I changed, you could still see me, as if you were watching the episodes of a series of which you knew the epilogue.
I don’t know how it will end: maybe you have already met the truth and you are growing up, but I am experiencing it and I grow old.
The old lady’s phone rings.
On the screen I read “Mária”.
You will always be here if I know how to look for you.