Budapest: Day One

Sitting in the business lounge in Munich, getting ready to board my last flight to Budapest. I am about to start an Artist residency program in Hungary. This is something I have dreamed about accomplishing for a long time, possibly 20+ years, finally I have the ability to achieve this dream. Artist residencies are one of the most competitive programs in visual arts. I applied to over 100 programs in the US and abroad, I was accepted to three programs. One in France, one in China and the residency in Budapest that I chose. I am currently 3 hours from setting my feet in Hungary, a country that is right next door to a place I love, Romania. I played basketball in Romania for a little while after college and I loved every moment I shared with the people in Eastern Europe. I guess it is a small piece of a homecoming, in a little way. 

I started my journey reading "Open Heart" by the beautiful Elie Wiesel, a book my brother in law bought me for Christmas. In chapter 3 as Elie heads in for heart surgery he shares, 

"I steal another glance at the woman with whom I have shared my life for more than forty-two years. So many events, so many discoveries and projects, unite us. All we have done in life we have accomplished together." 

Wow. Powerful. My heart echoes those words so strongly. Without my wife Mande, who has always supported my dreams, ambitions and crazy artist mind has been on this journey to now with me. I wonder what I would be without her. That's a story for another day. As she is back in Austin and catching up with me in 3 weeks, she is constantly on my mind, so I needed to write about her. 

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I am also re-reading my favorite book of all time by Madeline L'Engle (I read it every year, if not a few times a year), she writes "When I am constantly running there is no time for being. When there is no time for being there is no time for listening." I hope that I will simply "be" while in Budapest, so that I can simply "listen" as I create, learn and experience. "The questioning of being, and dying and being, is behind the telling of stories around tribal fires at night; behind the drawing of animals on the walls of caves; the singing of melodies of love in spring, and the death of green in Autumn. It is part of the deepest longing of the human psyche, a recurrent ache in the hearts of all God's creatures."

I arrived to Budapest in the evening and got acquainted with my host Beata who has been running the Hungarian Multicultural Center Residency for over 20 years. We got me settled in my apartment, that is connected to her home. It reminds me almost exactly of the home I lived in while in Romania. I met the other two residents from Canada, one more arrives from San Antonio today, we spent the evening over dinner and conversation about our stories and creating art. We all called it a night around 9:00.

I woke up at least 12 times in the night to pee, I pounded so much water on my flights and travel that I must of had a few gallons backed up. Finally decided to arise at about 6am to my first Hungarian morning. Took my time getting ready, made some coffee, read forms Streams in the Desert and Open Heart while eating some Justin's Honey/Peanut butter and finally decided to go for a little walk to the local market. The streets were already busy with life. Something I love about cultures outside of America. People depend on public transportation and walk everywhere as well. It just adds to life and community. I will see the same faces tomorrow if I go for a walk at the same time in the morning. 

There was a farmers market on the corner next to the grocery store, I chose the easy option and went to the store. Even though I have done farmers markets all over the world, I got nervous and went the easy "marked" price route! Shame on me for not supporting the local farmers. Next time. I bought a few necessities, eggs, milk, bananas, cheese, salami, yogurt, sparkling water, and some beans. Now I have an egg carton, so I can buy eggs at the farmers market next trip!

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I am back in my apartment listening to the new Hammok album, "Everything and Nothing" while writing and thinking through the day and life, and tearfully making through another deep and emotional chapter from Elie Wiesel. Today we set out for the city. I am excited. Another world, another time, another chapter of culture and life will collide with mine in an instant. Time to be.