The journey through the surreal has a postscript of nostalgia as I arrive to back to golden Prague for the first time in 15 years.
I first visited Prague in 1999, as a ginger 19 year-old in the midst of his first backpacking adventure across Europe, fresh off a year living in Israel. Of all the European capitals I visited that first summer of backpacking, I fell most in love with Prague, and couldn't wait to return.
Return, I did at my first opportunity. I spent the fall semester of my junior year abroad, studying in Prague. It was autumn 2001, and that September 11, a tempest sprung up and shook the world about. September 11 was a hinge of history, and probably a hinge for me. I know those days and months that followed the attacks on September 11 affected me, my thoughts and my career for years to come, but in ways I only understand now with the gift of hindsight.
I fear that the recent election will similarly be a historical hinge. In many ways, the uncertainty and trepidation feels very similar; in many ways, it feels worse. But that is not what this post was meant to focus on.
In "Immortality," Milan Kundera wrote: “Perhaps we become aware of our age only at exceptional moments and most of the time we are ageless.”
In returning, I can see that Prague has changed in many ways, and so have I. Yet when I look at the city, I still see the same spired beauty that inspired me so many years ago; when I look in the mirror, I still see that same kid--the portrait of Pavlichko as a young man. The face is a bit more lined, and there are a few more pounds and a bit less hair, but I still see that glint of excitement in my brown eyes at a world wide open to me.