My hands they were strangers lost in the night
They’re waving around in the dusty light
I’m waiting in the wings while the trees undress
Cupping my ear to hear the wind confess
I’m a ghost in the garden
Scaring the crows
If it weren’t for second chances, we’d all be alone
from Second Chances, Gregory Alan Isakov
Today, Sunday, I went to Penny, an amazing little supermarket that leaves one disoriented as items are not necessarily shelved according to categories, but more likely according to the stock clerk’s sense of humor – or perhaps a tug of war between clerks from different shifts. For example, laundry detergent was intermixed with auto windshield cleaner and hair spray. Veggies seemed to have been corraled, but those rascally fabric softeners must have leapt into the toilet paper aisle, wanting to have nothing to do with the unfaithful laundry detergent.
Checking out was a mystery as I understood nothing that the clerk said. I basically laid down on my back and offered up money.
The store has some type of system whereby customers use a keycoin to unlock the shopping carts. If one hasn’t a keycoin, one can’t get a cart, and those rascals are all parked outside the store and once you’re inside the store, you’re pretty much captive unless you cut into the checkout line and if you’ve forgotten all your polite words – as I have – you’re the object of staring eyes.
Somehow I managed to get the things I wanted, none that I didn’t desire, and was able to start the washing machine. Washing machines here tend to be smallish and run for a very long time, so off I went for a walk towards Centrum passing the school where I’ll be teaching and down roads that led me, under a sunless sky, in directions that seemed directionless. Nearly every business was closed. Reluctant to backtrack as raindrops sprinkled here and there, I eventually made my way to landmarks, and found my way to the apartment. Having enjoyed Penny so thoroughly earlier in the day, I popped in for another round of turtle on its back, then back at the apartment building I trudged up the stairs, passing the gossip group at one end of the hallway and past Zoltan and Ina at the other end of the hallway. Z&I like to sit with the hallway window open and chain-smoke cigarettes.
As I write I’m listening to music used during the short-lived American television show Forever, and the musical director had my number. Between soul, stylists like Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald, singer-songwriters, 80s sounds, jazz, contemporary and ambient-type tunes, I’m off in some space that elicits deja-vu. Am I ever in that space as this part of Hungary is so reminiscent of parts of the state of Maine (as I remember it) in the U.S., with its rolling farmland, mix of hard- and soft-wooded trees, brown and gray land and horizons, mud, packed earth, and stores like Penny and people who have lived hard lives, their faces worn with worry and laughter, their sense of themselves and their place assured.
I think I just accidentally sent the washing machine into another hour-long paroxysm of glee.
The coffee maker shown in the photos below is more of a mystery to me than is the Virgen of Guadalupe. I think water is meant for the black chamber and coffee for the upper basket, but I’m afraid the whole is going to explode and I’ll have to wash clothes anew.
Music from Forever