My uncles came to visit from Prague, just in time for my birthday. We met them at the airport. They're not as tall as I remember, and uncle Petr complained about how fat he'd gotten (not that fat). It's so good to see them. They have warm smiles and crow's feet wrinkles by their eyes from laughing all the time. They were the last two passengers released into the US, due to some sort of trouble in immigration, so they kept us in suspense for an hour and a half past their arrival time.
They'd probably disagree, but they haven't aged much. I expected frosted, even white hair. They're still healthy, vital, big men, men you'd expect to be ex-football players, with heavy jaws and meaty shoulders and big hands. My mother is very small between them, but she's the eldest of the three, though not the oldest sibling. Her sister is in South Africa. I've never met her, my aunt, but I've seen pictures. That part of the family is far away.
The Czech Republic is far away too, but they managed to find their way here, and we've managed to visit them. I'd like to take Rory and the kids sometime.
My mother's side of the family is originally from Moravia, specifically, Polna. Polna is a simple place (mentioned briefly in the link on 'day 6' of the bike tour). When I went there last, someone was still using a horse-drawn cart. It's not exactly a tourist town, though it's a stop for some folk of Jewish faith, as there's a very old synagogue there, an interesting ghetto, as well as a grave of a Jewish girl murdered in the forest outside of town. That should tell you something ... that although the murder happened generations ago, people still talk about it, still feel it as something shameful that never should have happened. Well, that may be my idealized view of it. My family still talks about it, and what an awful thing it was that the poor girl was killed by some creep passing through, and when they go mushroom picking they have to stop there to place wildflowers on her grave. When we visited just before the Velvet Revolution, there were already fresh wildflowers there. That probably explains why we didn't find much in the way of mushrooms.
It's hard for me to explain 'different culture' in the depth that I'd like to. You can see a different culture, maybe even intellectualize about the whys of a different culture, but I've *lived* in two cultures and it's hard to express the Czech feeling my uncles inspire in me when I see them. Because I wasn't raised in the country in which I was born (past age 1 1/2, anyway) there are a lot of mysteries, as well as a sense of being shipwrecked on a tiny island surrounded by native born Americans. We were always different, and by learning to be more the same (though never wholly the same), I am missing key nuances to Czech life. But the stories I grew up with were Czech, and when I go back to the 'home country' I don't feel like a foreigner. I feel like a dummy, but not a foreigner. We speak the same language. Not in words ( have the halting vocabulary of a four year old), but with our hearts. We like to sing and dance, we create art without a sense of shame, inadequacy or without being raised to believe that if you aren't a professional artist your work is crap. There are a lot of differences between individuals, huge differences, but we're more alike than we're unalike.
So imagine, if you can, a very small country of people like you. Is it a good place? If you go there, would you find yourself at home?
Flog a BookBubber 75: Mick Bose - Writers, send your prologue/first chapter to FtQ for a “flogging” critique. Email as an attachment. Many of the folks who utilize BookBub are self-publishe...
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