Keep Going in the Dark

Budapest in the rain
Budapest in the rain

I was alone and lost in Budapest at midnight. I’d gotten off at the wrong subway stop and between Cyrillic and English, I could make no sense of the signs. My backpack hurt my shoulders and shoes were wearing thin. The lights of a posh hotel called my attention, I dug out the address I had in my pocket and trudged over.

The fellow at the front desk looked me up and down. “You don’t want to stay here, do you?” he asked. As I needed directions more than my pride, I said no thank you and showed him the scrap of paper in my hand. “Go wait for the bus,” he said, pointing out the doors. “Across the street. The bus goes there.”

I waited 30 minutes at that bus stop. I could see the hotel’s front desk from my bench, and that skinny, oily young man standing behind it. I realized that the bus wasn’t coming. They didn’t run that late. Of course.

Cursing, I started walking again and wandered into a club district. Big men in shiny suits stood smoking outside discos. Techno music blared. I nodded hello to them as I passed. Walk like you know where you are going, my mother always said. You’ll get in less trouble that way. Right.

Around the next corner was dark. The streetlights didn’t work and the skeleton of an unfinished building loomed next to me. I told myself to keep walking and that I could walk all night if I had to. What I wanted to do was sit on the sidewalk and cry. But crying never solved anything. Crying didn’t read a map. Crying didn’t find hostels. How dangerous was Budapest at one in the morning anyway?

The street got darker. I could not see where it was going or what kinds of buildings lined the road. The sidewalk was uneven. Would it be safer to find a corner for the night or keep walking? I could go back, but the men in the suits and gold watches would see me and they would know I was lost.

Then I heard English. Two males voices chatting behind me. I turned around and hello to the dark.

I couldn’t see their faces until they were quite close. An American and a Canadian. They walked me over to the hostel–less than three blocks away from where I was standing. So close, but I could’ve walked all night.

In fiction, I keep going. People around may wonder what the hell I am doing and if I am lost, but I keep going. Sometimes I find someone along the way to point me in the right direction. Like Shelly. And Shelli. Rowena too. JES. Now when I get to where I’m going the place may be shabby, but at least I’m there. Thanks to them and several others.

Who keeps you going when your story gets lost?

8 thoughts on “Keep Going in the Dark

  1. A BIG SIGH of relief that you didn’t have to walk all night long.

    Thank you for your kind words. As a matter of fact, you keep me going too. And I wish I had more time to do the blogging thing so that I’d meet more people like you.

    My son keeps me going too. Partly because I’ll go crazy if all I am is a stay-at-home-mom and partly because I want him to have a role model of someone who pursued what she loved while also meeting other obligations and while also fighting against all odds.

    And my husband nagging at me to not be lazy helps a bit too.

  2. The folks I have found online like you, Rowena, and Kate keep me writing and there are others that keep me creating art. There are friends I see often who keep me inspired as does my little one and husband – they keep me on my toes. They make me want to be the best person I can be…they make me want to make my dreams come to life.

    So, thanks šŸ™‚

  3. This story is one almost any woman who has traveled alone abroad can surely relate too. I sure can.

    I can also relate to your comments about your mother and writing. How wonderful to have had such a supportive mother.

    I believe that all the people we ever loved–especially deeply–continue to live inside us…and that we do have some knowing of their wisdom and responding love that we carry with us.

    Thanks for the link. When I get back from Ghana in 2009 and work on my links page, I’ll return the favor.

    Janet Riehl

  4. Great story, of course. Shelly’s right… you make me care what happens to your characters. I wish I knew how you did it, I think it’s effortlessly natural for you.

    Who keeps me going? people like you and Shelly and Kate who get me thinking about elements in the story. All the people on line and in real life who have encouraged me. The routine– the more set in the routine I am, the more likely I am to keep going. The specter of having to return to teaching HS in a couple years when my kids are old enough for school…I like teaching, but I really want to write and paint, so I have to put my money where my keyboard is. The challenge of a deadline, whether an external deadline or one I set up for myself. All help. Also, sometimes I remember myself back when I was 15 or 21, and I don’t want to disappoint my younger me. Also the phrase, “writers write.” That’s all.

    “Writers write.”

  5. This is a great story, Marta. You do have a gift.

    And y’know, even when you aren’t blogging a lot — kiddo, job, art show(s), acting class(es), NaNo, God knows what else in the mix — as others have said above, there’s still a LOT right here to keep your regular visitors going. The pictures, the questions, above all the memories and ruminations.

    Nothing to add to others’ comments, either, about the other kinds of things that keep me going: blogging (both on the writing and the reading sides of the experience); The Missus and my family; my own expectations (occasionally crossing over into fantasy); the routine.

  6. I think it’s wonderful these words are in the blogasphere. I’m not a novelist, I don’t know how often I’ll return, but you make an imprint that others don’t.

    All the best with your writing.

  7. Such an interesting question. I don’t really have anyone. No one in my family writes or creates like I do. I don’t share enough with the blogger friends who might help, I’m much more open about my paintings and my photography, writing is still my secret child, still hidden away, still waiting to be shown to the world one day.

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