Saturday, May 14, 2011

Beauty and the Beast and Our Lady of Hungary

Of all the Broadway shows I have seen/listened to/been exposed to, there are three that I really don't like: Chicago, Avenue Q, and Beauty and the Beast. That's not to say that I love all of the rest, but those three are ones I wouldn't be at all likely to listen to or watch. Except for one thing in each of them. In Chicago, it's the innocent Hungarian girl who gets hung because they don't understand her honest defense. In Avenue Q, it's the song "Fine, Fine Line" which I've turned to many times in the past when frustrated with a relationship (or lack thereof). With Beauty and the Beast, it's "A Change in Me."

There's been a change in me
A kind of moving on
Though what I used to be
I still depend on
For now I realize
That good can come from bad
That may not make me wise
But oh it makes me glad

And I-- I never thought I'd leave behind
My childhood dreams But I don't mind
For now I love the world I see
No change of heart a change in me

For in my dark despair
I slowly understood
My perfect world out there
Had disappeared for good
But in its place I feel
A truer life begin
And it's so good and real
It must come from within

And I-- I never thought I'd leave behind
My childhood dreams but I don't mind
I'm where and who I want to be
No change of heart
A change in me

No change of heart
A change in me
I can't describe this past year in Hungary any better than this song does. Or, more generally, my feelings throughout the years about living in Hungary.

Ten years ago, I thought my parents were trying to ruin my life. I honestly believed they had concocted their plan to move to Europe simply to make me miserable. I went kicking and screaming. I had no intentions of enjoying it. And, until my attitude changed, I didn't enjoy it at all. Part way through that year, however, I realized that I was stuck here and might as well make the most of it. After that, I fell in love with Budapest. The food, the culture, the public transportation, actually being able to communicate somewhat in the language, etc. When we moved back to the US - ironically on July 4th - I dragged my heels even more than I originally had about going in the first place.

For the next three years, I hated living in the US. All I wanted was to go back to Hungary. I was known to wear all black on July 4th (as the commemoration of our return from Budapest), make up pitiful excuses to avoid saying the Pledge of Allegiance or sing the Star Spangled Banner, and relish singing "God Bless the USA" due to the double negative which makes it technically say "there is doubt that I love this land."

Then, after graduating from SHS, I had the option to go back to Budapest with my family for the year. I jumped at the opportunity, especially when I got a part-time job working at a bilingual kindergarten. Unfortunately, the first few months were a rather rude awakening. Budapest was not the utopia I had remembered through my rose-colored glasses (lol... no pun intended... I didn't even wear glasses yet). Despite my disappointment, the year went well. At the end of the year, I had come to terms with moving back to the US and was actually happy - especially to be starting university.

Four years passed... time alternately flew and dragged. And I found myself moving back to Hungary this past August. Thrilled to be going "home" again. It's been good. But, just like the BatB song says "there's been a change in me." Moving here, I planned to stay for a long time. Years, even decades maybe. While I can't say for sure, that doesn't seem so likely anymore.

I was going to Szent Matyas Templom (St. Mathias Church at the Castle) quite regularly earlier in the year for their Sunday morning "smells and bells" NO Mass. At the end of Mass, they always sing the hymn to Our Lady of Hungary and the Himnusz (national anthem... a hymn asking for God's protection). Singing along with everyone (I've known the national anthem since high school), I would feel such a sense of "home" ... this was where I was supposed to be. I didn't feel like I would ever leave. For various reasons, I haven't been to that particular Mass for months. However, last week, one of the daily Masses I attended ended with the hymn to Our Lady of Hungary. It was strange, singing along because I didn't have that same sense of "home."

A number of things, from good to not so good, have changed my perspective in the past few months. I'm making no definite statements about the future, but the prospect of teaching next year is getting more and more daunting. On top of that, I miss singing. To a painful degree. And I miss my friends, family, people in the US. More and more, it looks like I'll be moving back to the US the year after next -- hopefully for grad school. Would that mean I'm giving up my childhood dream of living in Hungary? Maybe. BUT, if that's what happens, it will be "where and who I want to be."


  1. just looked up the hymn to our lady of hungary on youtube - SO beautiful!

  2. I imagine that I have a rather similar feeling with Spain. Despite the fact that I love traveling in Spain and loved living here when I was in college, I just can't see myself here long-term as an adult. And I've come to realize that that's ok. I'll always have Spain to run to and delight in, and then I can go back to wherever it is that I make my home. I guess, I just want to say that you don't have to feel like you've lost Hungary, because I certainly felt like I lost Spain. It's just different now, but so are you, and that's ok.