Steam rises from my little glass teapot. It's the fifth brewing of the Tung Ting Oolong, so it's a little bit weak even though the color is still a clear gold. Employees of the tea shop are in front of me, an older couple across the way, and a single girl behind me. In the other room are more groups. The chatter rises above the music, but I can't understand any of it because it's all in Hungarian.
I'm here by myself. Two friends visited, but one had to go home to London, and the other to a conference in Zürich.
I have a tendency, when traveling alone, to stay holed up in my AirBnb. But after a day of that I wanted to get out. This place is perfect. I can drink my tea, feel like I'm around people, but not be distracted by their conversations.
My favorite game to play by myself is to imagine a kid version of myself could see me now. What would he think? Usually he'd just be surprised, I think. How random is it that I'm sitting in Budapest, by myself, writing? It's not significant in any way, but I wouldn't have guessed it, either.
I didn't want to come to Budapest at first. There was a $200 flight from New York to Tokyo that had a several-day layover in Budapest, and I couldn't resist the deal. It was the third in a series of cobbled-together round the world trips I did earlier this year and I was a little worn out. I would have preferred to go straight to Tokyo.
But I fell in love with Budapest, and now I'm here for the third time this year. I'm trying to really appreciate being here, because I know that once I'm back I'll think about how much I want to be in Budapest. So I sip my tea slowly and just focus on being here.
I love the randomness of life. Sometimes I worry that I'm addicted to it. Not a serious heroin-type addiction, but that I favor randomness and chaos a little too much. So much good has come out of those things for me that I have positive associations now.
Last night I wasn't so convinced that being in Budapest was that great. Nothing against the city, but I thought: I'm in some random city by myself for no reason. What am I doing? Shouldn't I be home working?
That's the thing about having a life build upon randomness. You have these moments where you realize you have nothing against which to compare your life. When you do the school-job-marry-retire track, you can know exactly where you are. You can evaluate your progress and you can know what the next waypoint is. But me? I have no idea.
There are some days where I think I have it all figured out. Most days, if I'm honest. I think about how great my life is, how great the people in it are, and I'm extremely grateful. And maybe I feel a little proud that I went off the beaten path and I'm not in a gutter somewhere.
When I was younger my grandfather let me take his boat out on the lake by myself. I was proud that he trusted me to drive it and I raced out to the middle of the lake. I noticed a little bit of water in the bottom of the boat. Then more. There was a little hole in the back where the plug was supposed to go, but I didn't know that's what it was for. Water kept slowly pouring in.
The feeling I had then is the same feeling I have sometimes when I'm drinking tea and thinking about my life. Maybe I've gone too far off the beaten path. Maybe everything isn't going to coalesce like I think it will. Maybe everyone goes to school and gets a job because that's the right thing to do. Maybe I resist it not because my way is better, but because I want to be different.
That's not how I feel today, though. I like being here by myself in Budapest, writing for you. My tea is weak now and mostly just tastes like warm water. Soon I'll pack up my laptop and walk back out into the city. Tomorrow I'm going on a cruise and I'm going to write another book. Life is good.
I think it's good to have a little bit of uncertainty, though. It feels like it prevents me from fooling myself, from buying into my own hype too much. When you're off on your own path, there isn't always someone to hold you in check, so you have to do it yourself. It's important to ask yourself if you're really doing what you should be doing, and to follow those threads to their conclusion, rather than just brushing them away. Sometimes being alone in a foreign country with a good pot of tea is the best way to do it.
Photo is the tea I drank as I wrote this.
The new book is going to be different from the others-- it will be a series of stories like this one from my travels.
"Maybe everyone goes to school and gets a job because that's the right thing to do. Maybe I resist it not because my way is better, but because I want to be different." This is a realization must drug addicts have somewhere along the path of getting sober. I think you, however, are doing A-OK, Tynan.
I can relate. I know the feeling well, and you described it better than I ever could. Thanks for posting this.
Now that I spend so much time in Budapest I get a lot of requests for things to do there. I'm not always the best at replying quickly, so I figured I'd write a blog post with an exhaustive list of all of my favorite places.
If you're not going to Budapest, you might think this list doesn't apply to you. But Budapest is the Best Place in Europe, so you should read it to understand why, and book a trip there!
Around half of these recommendations came from my friend Mark Webster, a friend-of-a-friend I was introduced to when I came to Budapest this summer. He gave me a big list of places to go and 90% of them became my favorites.
So, what's up my good people?
Writing a first post is actually quite hard, because you will never know what to write first. That's why this post is mainly about nothing, and yet everything I can think of at the time.
#1 So, first things first, I write this blog because I want to prove to myself that I can do something for a longer period of time. You could call that a self-improvement method.
#2 My posts will be quite chaotic, but the main subjects will be: My road to Japan, Games, Movies, my look on the world.
#3 I think it's time for my goals now. My main goal is: Study in Japan and maybe move there for good. I'm learning Japanese and preparing myself for the exams. I still have around 2 or so years to the exams, but I believe that the earlier I start, the better. Living in Japan has been my dream since I was 7. A lot of people tell me, that this dream will wear off, but I don't really think so. My particular liking towards the Japanese culture (And I'm not talking about manga, neither the Kimonos and samurais. Let's grow up a little people.) may give me some rose-tinted glasses, but I try to be as realistic on the matter as I can. The rest of the goals? Become a programmer, get a good job and simple stuff like that. And I also like writing about things that seem interesting to me.