Travel Journal Memories
One year after the fall of communism, I stood near the Danube River watching the fireworks on St. Stephen’s Day. It was a warm night, August 20th to be exact, and we couldn’t believe the throngs of joyous people who came out of their homes to celebrate the momentous occasion. To say it had been a long day would be an understatement. My day began the previous morning in Los Angeles where I had taken a few weeks off from my job at the Times. Wearing a skirt with short heels and a scooped neck tank, I remember feeling both exhausted and exhilarated. When the fireworks finished, we noticed the buses and cable cars had ceased operation for the holiday and we had a three or four mile trek ahead of us at nine-thirty at night. Remember, I had heels on and since I can’t sleep on airplanes, though still fairly youthful, my batteries definitely needed recharging. Still, we made it. In fact, the next day I was off for some more sightseeing and later a train trip to Rome. I remember dragging heavy suitcases around and pulling them over my open-toed sandals. By the time, I reached home I had reached my limit and thought I’d never travel again. But of course, I did.
So now, twenty-five years later I’m spending a relaxing summer at home. On August 20th, I thought of St. Stephen, the first king of Hungary and that trip I had made so long ago. I thought of that beautiful evening full of wonderful colors and cheerful faces. I thought of freedom and what it means to be free whether someone lives in Budapest, Hungary or somewhere in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. People generally want similar things and one of those things has to do with how we feel on the inside. No amount of control can change hearts unless they want to be changed. No amount of fatigue could have kept me away from that magical display of exploding rockets and pyrotechnics. No amount of cruelty could keep communism in Hungary, because I’m solidly convinced, God wants people to be happy, even if it takes a saint from 1000 years ago to make His point.