Please welcome a new regular writer to our ranks, Bekah Williamson. She has guest written for us before and will now be taking over the 28th of each month. Welcome! (It is also Bekah’s birthday today — congratulations!)
I attend graduate school, work as a nanny, and live above a bakery.
This is the total summation of my life. It is an easy and compact answer to toss, like a Tic-Tac, at the question I too often hear: “So, what are you up to?”
I hate the question. It makes my skin prickle with uncertainty of whether or not my answer will satisfy, if it will be found wanting. I prefer to have concise answers about what I’m ‘up to’ because nobody has time for a moment-by-moment mental wrestling match of future goals and what-is-the-meaning-of-it-all existential crises. Instead I tell about where I live and what I eat.
I’ve categorize life by where I lay my head and what I put in my belly since I lived in the dorms. I slept in NVW and ate at Knollcrest (because it was and is the superior dining hall). Then I slept on Benjamin Ave and ate at Marie Catrib’s. Next it was the mountains of Oregon and excessive amounts of granola and quinoa.
Now I live above a bakery and eat a variety of scones and heavenly breakfast sandwiches. Before I lived here (and consumed 600 pounds of croissants per day) I lived in a Soviet era condo in Budapest and ate pizza.
I lived at Kaszasdulo. Don’t worry. I couldn’t pronounce it either. Despite a year’s residence in Hungary the best I can figure is if you begin with a harsh “kkkaa” followed up with a jazzy “zja” and round it all out with a long “OOO” with your lips in full fishy lips mode and you still will be nowhere near the correct pronunciation. To simplify matters I called it Kazadoom. If a place can’t be related phonetically to a LOTR kingdom then it isn’t worth my time.
Kaszasdulo is a well-trafficked stop on the HEV, a suburban line that ran north of Buda. It boasts a high school, kindergarten, Aldi, Auchan, and several roads lined with Commie condos. If you don’t know what a Commie Condo is, imagine an ugly apartment complex without any architectural character, aesthetic charm, or authentic creativity. Mine was on Buza Utca which translates to Wheat Street. Luckily, this is pronounced exactly the way it is spelled with emphasis on “BOOZ-A.’
The Kaszasdulo mantra is one of hurry up and wait. Ample foot traffic parades across the narrow cracked sidewalks sectioned by block, depending on which condo complex they fall beneath. Condo block two houses the entire elderly population of Hungary. I am serious. The number of house slippers that traverse that sidewalk was astonishing. There is a convenient cement ‘garden’ *cough cough dirt hole cough* wall that they use as a bench while their toy poodles urinate on the telephone box, trash bin, and occasional passerby.
Block three is run by Avanti, the mutually agreed upon pride of our community. Avanti the Mediterranean take-out restaurant that, regardless of its extensive Mediterranean menu of falafel and shish kabobs, only serves us pizza. Damn good pizza, no complaints, but not even a hint of pita.
That is how I will remember my year abroad: by the sights and tastes (not of falafel) of that one mundane and uneventful street on the west banks of the Danube.
Rebekah (’12) teaches English as a second language at Grand Rapids Community College. She does not drink coffee nor purchase Apple products.