One of my favorite Christmas seasons was the year I lived in Prague. The photo above is from Christmas 2000 as I meandered through the Christmas market in Old Town Square. The stalls were replete with hand made glass and wooden ornaments, various knits and textiles, sugary sweets, toys and other bric-a-brac. A blacksmith pounded out small Christmas bells on his anvil while the sweet smell of coal perfumed the air throughout the market. Carols and organ music reverberated from the centuries old Týn church seen behind me. As I enjoyed hot cider from a local merchant I remember thinking how lucky I felt to be experiencing something so beautiful.
These and many other experiences created what would be one of the best years of my entire life. I knew this year would be important both emotionally and psychologically. I knew this year abroad would change me forever and so I set out to capture all my thoughts, feelings, sights, sounds, smells, and experiences in what I referred to as my “Prague Journal”. I had this soft powder blue journal that snapped closed with one single clasp. I wrote regularly and I often would go back and re-read entries not just while I was still in Prague but for many years to come. I cherished that journal. It was one of my most important possessions.
Unfortunately, about 4 years ago it went missing. I was moving from NYC back to Massachusetts and a box was misplaced? thrown out? who knows? I hold out hope that one day it will reappear but for now I lament its loss. And that is why this blog has come about. The angrier I got about the loss of my journal and the further some memories are becoming as they blur in my mind I wanted to recapture my experiences and add new ones but I don’t want to risk losing them again. So safe in the cloud they can remain.
So while I may not be able to read my old writings, I can do my best to recall some of those memories. I miss the taste of a hot guláš, smažený sýr, and ovocné knedlíky all washed down with a tumbler of becherovka. I miss the oblaten that my brother has come to love. I swear he has a brush with the divine as he almost experiences transubstantiation when this over sized communion like wafer touches his lips. I miss late night bar/cafe runs with friends, co-workers and various acquaintances that just happen to be passing through town. Those 2 AM chats about life were some of the most enlightening experiences of my life. I miss dinner parties that had guests representing a half dozen different countries and cultures. I miss the freedom I felt to explore not only a new place but the introspective space where I challenged my tightly held beliefs and world views and would turn everything on its head. I miss my friends, Maruška, Petr, Chris, Sandro, Sandra, Martin, and countless others who laughed, cried, and shared that amazing year with me.
I’ve been back to Prague in 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2008. I am feeling the tug at my heart to go back, sit in a cafe and drink some mátový čaj and let the magic wash over me.