I feel very lucky. Very, very lucky. In fact, I might liken myself to Governor Ratcliffe–yes, the villain in Pocahontas. Much like Ratcliffe dances around singing with joy about the golden swag he is hoping he’ll soon be pocketing, I feel like dancing around singing about this city that now belongs to me. (Okay, maybe this comparison is a stretch but the song has been stuck in my head for weeks now)–I also went on an archaeological dig, so even the digging is relevant. Mine Mine Mine, Bratislava is mine.
I have found myself in a wonderful place. I was reading some poetry earlier this month about different cities in the UK (I have been trying to ingest as much British literature as my mind can possibly handle–as I am teaching it next month) and I was struck by an understanding that was new. Poetry for a long time was something I just didn’t “get.” In recent years I have noticed that my life experiences have enabled me to resonate more deeply with poetry–maybe that is the trick, the passing of time, a fuller understanding of myself and the world offers me access to the richness of verses that articulate a sentiment that I have yet to verbally conjure myself. (I am not fooling myself into thinking this is novel information for the world, rather it is more a new understanding I have begun to recognized as late as last year–when I stopped thinking the Psalms were the most boring part of the Bible.) *musicians roll their eyes*
Sorry, I’ll get back to the point. The poetry I was reading was about different cities in Great Britain, the one that has stuck with me as I have walked the twisted avenues in Old Town has been a poem by Christine de Luca from Scotland in her poem, Edinburgh Volte-Face, she says:
City of venerable skylines;
each morning you un-do yourself
like someone more anxious to save
the wrapping than enjoy the gift.
mmmhhh. I don’t really know what that means, but it gives me some inexplicable feeling. Maybe that is the point of poetry–or maybe I am still missing the point entirely–I am not ready to make a definitive statement for this case.
Well, that took an entirely different turn than I expected, I was going to write about some of my initial feelings about being in the city by myself, feeling nervous, and then really starting to feel comfortable–I was not going to get all artsy and thoughtful on you, so sorry about that. Maybe you liked it; if that is the case you’re welcome.
Over the years I denied being a “romantic,” but my friend once told me that Pride and Prejudice could not be my favorite book if I was not a romantic, so there you have it. The evening strolls to look at city lights, the afternoons spent with cappuccino in hand, people watching, the tram rides with Beowulf–offering me expositions of valor, the misty mornings wandering through at a castle ruin, the late nights with my windows open–lights off–watching the lightning bubble its way through the clouds–these are the moments I endure with utter joy. Each precious gifts from a God that knows I miss my friends and family, yet reminds me of a greater purpose and the exciting adventure I have been invited into.
I get to be here in a place that is starting to feel a bit like home. Where I am learning the choreography. That is sort of what it has felt like. When you go to a place where everyone else knows the dance by heart, you spend the first few lessons bumbling around. Like you don’t know how to fit in, and you are sticking out like a sore thumb.
You feel self-conscious, you step on toes, your face gets all red, in my case your hands are constantly producing more sweat than any human should be able to reasonably manifest over a week long period, and you feel like quitting, but soon, it starts to make sense. You can hear the beat, you stop focusing on whether or not your feet are in the right place and you dance right alongside everyone else. I am starting to learn the dance, and it feels good. For the time being, my soundtrack is coming from Pocahontas.