When home in the US, I get asked a lot of things. One question that I hear is, "how have you changed?" This isn't an easy question. After six years of living in Budapest, I think I can start to really answer that question.
As I was washing the dishes today, it occured to me, "I understand my grandmother." This happened as I was putting a washed straw away into the drawer. It's a strange behavior. It's weird. And the only other time I've ever seen it was when I would visit my grandmother.
She grew up during the Great Depression. She came from a family of nine. Life was hard. More than once, I heard the story about how she with her sister, both younger than ten years old, would ride the street car across town to go sell vegetables. They didn't care about child labor laws; they did what they had to do to provide for the family. They saved and they used everything they could to get the most of out it. That's why she saved the straws much later in life.
Why did I save the straw? Life here isn't easy for expatriots. It's not as hard as surely as it was during the Depression. But, I saved the straw because I don't have much disposable income. When I do, I don't want to waste it on something silly. Even when I do, I don't want to travel accross town to get something I really don't need. There are more important things to spend money on. So, I'll save the stupid straw and get the most of out it.
I think I understand my grandmother a bit better.
Personal note to my mom and dad who will read this: Don't freak out. We're fine. This a commentary. We're doing OK and we're eating fine. We'll see you in a few weeks.
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