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Catching a Moment - Backpacking my Family Tree

WORLDWIDE | Tuesday, 9 April 2013 | Views [174] | Scholarship Entry

The crisp, cold air whistles through the crack of a window in Geza’s mini van as he turns down a hill in Szerencs, Hungary. Geza, despite not knowing English and me not knowing Hungarian, insists on driving me around his town and to the house where my grandmother and my father were born. His white-cream hair blends into the snow around us and his eyes are a genuine blue sky. As we communicate without words, we are left to use every other sense to read the moment. It’s his energy, body language and inflection that help me grasp what he wants to share with me: his home.?

Houses around us are caked in snow as their chimneys diligently puff smoke. Cars are tucked under white blankets. We roll past them, down roads that would be dusty in warmer months but now are being dusted in powdered sugar. Our tire tracks are the first that morning, carving a path toward a glimpse into my grandmother’s past.

He points to the road we approach, ‘Racoyzi Ut.’ He tells me. I know this street. I walked up it from the train station in order to backpack my family tree.

‘Igen,’ I tell Geza. I said yes, feeling that we’re close to my grandmother’s street. The wind pours through the crack of the window titillating my skin, the hairs on the back of my neck stand at full salute to a foreign place and time.

He points to a side street and nods. He pulls onto it and stops the car, pointing to a yellow house behind a black iron fence. I give Geza a huge smile and a thumbs up which is universal for, “Yeah!”

Standing in front of her house, I breathe in the brisk air and rock back and forth in my boots hearing their crunch in the snow. Far away, the church bells ring and in front of me is the house where my grandmother and father were born. I take out the flip camera from pocket to record this moment for my 91 year old grandmother.

“Mamama, we’ve made it! You’re looking at Rakozyi Ut covered in snow. You’re hearing church bells playing and here is your house. It still stands, across the street is the Electric Company where your Dad was the Director. And this is Geza. He’s the owner of the bed and breakfast who’s treating me like family and driving me around. Geza, say szia to my nagymama!’

Geza smiles, puffs his chest and speaks Hungarian. I don’t know what he’s saying but from his inflection, he’s happy. As the snow falls, I feel as though I've captured the moment in a snow globe. It makes my heart swell knowing that I can give this moment, this snow globe to my grandmother.

Tags: Travel Writing Scholarship 2013

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