Monday, December 19, 2011

Bravery Really is...

Someday I'm going to speak Czech. I wish that someday was now. I wish it was a language a bit more closely related. A language I could just fall into. I could spend all my time being frustrated with the fact that I sound like a toddler at best when I try to choke out as word or two here and there. Sometimes that is exactly what I do. Other times I say, sure I'll go shopping with you all day my dear parents-in-law, without the company of my husband. (He had to stay home and keep an eye on Katcha, who does happen to be doing better. She's walking around and eating and drinking, and even went outside a couple of times today which is definitely a relief for all of us.) As soon as we were in the car my phone rang. Just a little quick question from my Love, but it was enough to alert the parents that I do have an operational phone now. Which led to them asking for my number. I'm not quite sure what we would be able to say if they did need to call me, but it was a nice gesture all the same. And I even managed to tell them that my phone is very old because I bought it when I lived in Hong Kong. I felt relatively pleased with the exchange. It was very nearly an actual conversation with at least a couple complete sentences. We headed out toward Plzen, but made a cemetery stop first. I came out here once before last summer. There is something so powerful about visiting a family grave site. I'm not sure how many years it has been since Mark's grandmother passed away, but it is obviuos that his father is still very much attached. A Christmas bouquet was placed beside the headstone, and an electric candle, that flickers like a real candle, was added to the glass candle box. Czech graves are quite different from the ones we have in America. They are often more like little stone boxes and they're set so close together that there is now way of knowing where the body actually lies. We stood a moment, admiring the new additions, and then said goodbye. An emotional experience, even though I never met the woman. After that it was shopping time. It was the final shopping weekend before Christmas, so there was plenty to get done. Our first few shops were busy, but not over the top. I've been in American malls at this time of year. I've experienced the frenzy. It wasn't really like that here. There wer lots of people, but they weren't so frantic. Christmas is a big deal here, not like in Hong Kong where it's more like just another excuse for grand displays and materialism. They get really into it, but I feel like the focus is more on making millions of Christmas cookies, and preparing for the big day than it is about spending every spare moment shopping. Or at least not until after lunch. We took a break at the classic food stop, the York Hotel. Lunch was nice. Being the conscientious Czech parents that they are, they insisted that getting a small salad and krokety did not a proper meal make. After scouring the menu for things they thought I might like, they know I like pizza and pasta, they accepted my choice of a salad with chicken. At least it involved meat. We returned to shopping and it seemed the floodgates had opened at last. The parking lot of the next place we tried was ultra full. Full to the point that after ten minutes of driving around we totally gave up and drove off. We had better luck at the next couple places (did I mention that Plzen has a LOT of shopping malls?) but there were definitely bigger crowds. There are some people who get all antsy about Christmas shopping, but I'm just not one of them. I actually enjoy being out in the crush and rush. Probably partly because it does remind me of Hong Kong on a normal day. I also just love looking at the rows and rows of fresh clean things. I suppose you could call it some twisted materialism, but I don't even need to buy anything. I just like to see it. I like to see things and get ideas about how it must be to have stuff like that. Totally bizarre, I know, but there it is. In the end, I know everything I'm getting for Christmas, but it was all fun anyway. I also know what Mark is getting, and I just have to enjoy that he, who doesn't like surprises, doesn't know, while I, who do like surprises, knows. It's a bit odd, but sometimes you just have to accept doing things differently, right? By the time we got home it was about 6PM. It had been a long language overload sort of day. I didn't succeed in talking as much as I would like, but I was there. I spent the whole day struggling to understand, and trying to make myself understood at least every now and again. It will get better one of these days, I'm sure of it. Just not sure exactly when that day will be or how it will be achieved. For now I just have to be content with the small things and thankful for every victory in overcoming the language barrier.

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