There Again and Back

Prague Generic1It’s been a long summer. Nay, my friends, it has been one horridly long year. A lot of it has been amazing, a lot of it has been awful (honesty hour, folks – I don’t sugarcoat), all of it has been life-changing. And even though there was a bunch of stuff wrapped into this bundled mess of a zodiac cycle, the defining theme of my distress can be greatly summed up with one phrase, “I don’t have my visa yet.”

The multiple trips to the Czech Consulate in Los Angeles, the notarizing, the certifying, the express mail receipts that took a chunk out of my savings – all to get my paperwork in order – only to find out that there are more steps, more papers…I nearly lost my mind.

Ahh, and we all already know I spend most of my time lost.

No, not just mentally, though that’s partially true also. I live in constant fear of losing my way. So when my dear friend Lydia was in town and wanted to make the Vienna trip with me to apply for my visa two months ago I thought to myself, “She speaks German, she can read maps…It’s like God is sending me an angel to get me there and back again in one piece!”

Expertly, she navigated us through the U-Bahn system, asked for directions, and even fell asleep on top of our luggage as a safety measure when I was preoccupied filling out paperwork at the embassy.

But this week I had to go back. And I had to go by myself.

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A Colored Thread

IMG_8116I suppose it doesn’t cross your mind as a Kindergartner that the girl sitting next to you who is so much better than you at drawing the hand-traced Thanksgiving Turkeys will one day be sitting next to you on a bench in Vienna at 7:30 a.m. eating salami-cheese-and-butter sandwiches made the night before.

But life does happen like this, as if it’s really an intricate tapestry where everyone’s threads crisscross in a frenzy of color and panic and beauty and not until we reach the end of the spool will we see just how elaborate a craftsmen the Weaver is.

I think cities can be like this too. Just looking at the U-Bahn maps in Vienna is cause to give those of lighter constitution a small case of nausea. (And to tie it into the tapestry metaphor, those maps ARE really colorful).

Wait a second, Mary – what are you doing in Vienna?

Oh, awesome question. In order to obtain my visa I have to apply outside the country. So at 00:30 on Tuesday morning (that’s 12:30 a.m. for normal people), my good and long-time friend Lydia and I trekked across Prague to the Student Agency Bus station in Florenc. We were guided by eldest daughter of my missionary hosts and cherry-picker extraordinaire, Autumn. She pointed out our stops and explained how the maps work and then left us at the bus station to catch her tram back home saying, “Just pay attention and you’ll be fine!” . . . Right.

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