That Mixture of Things

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This summer a few people have asked me, “What’s it like to live in a country [Hungary] that has moved so far to the right?” I try to explain that the government and the country are not the same, but even that is just a sketch of what I wish I could say. I am just starting to get to know Hungary’s literature, music, dance, theatre, daily life, wit, history, natural surroundings, education, language, bike routes, skies. I could spend the rest of my life there and learn only a fraction of it all. Beyond that, I am inspired by the people I have met: their kindness, works, reality, and thoughts.

The United States is complex too, eh? I leave with sadness and anger over the mass murders in El Paso and Dayton–and yet I love my country, troubled as it is right now, and during this visit have come to love it more. I love its vast diversity, its persistent dream, its expanse and cities, its alleyways and nooks, its clubs and cafés, its music and poetry, its continual capacity for more. I am grateful for my friends, colleagues, students, teachers, family.

Can a country be judged by its leaders? Its news highlights? Its summaries and takeaways? To an extent, yes, but beyond that, no, no, no.

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I took the first photo through a mirror at Grand Central Station; the second, through a window at Dobrá Tea in Northampton, Massachusetts.

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