Dear Mom / Sarah Barrientos

Dear Mom,

You’ll be happy to hear that I didn’t wait till the last pair of clean undies to do laundry, but you won’t be surprised that my side of the room in Budapest was still swallowed up by everything that should be neatly packed in my suitcase. Don’t worry, my foot really doesn’t hurt anymore, I still can’t believe I managed to break it 10 weeks ago! Other than always taking the elevator, it hasn’t really slowed me down.

Healing-from-broken-foot issues aside, Hungary has been great. Imagine if you could combine the beautiful old-world buildings from all those “woman goes to X European country to find herself” movies you love so much, with a quieter, smokier version of New York, add in a bunch of tiny, well-trained dogs, fearless pigeons, and BAM — you’ve got Budapest. You would love to visit here.

I think of you and dad often, I can’t look at an overweight pug huffing alongside its owner without your voice in the back of my head sighing, “oh my LouLou!” while dad sits next to you, shaking his head. How are the dogs, by the way? Did the sight of my too-big carry on suitcase that you had to bring home fuel their irrational fear of luggage? The differences from America and Hungary is evident even in the dogs, you won’t see a frenzied dog tugging on their leash to jump up on strangers, here, the little dogs walk stone-faced and quiet, just like their owners.

Hungarians are a very dry and cynical, people. Actually, I’m sure if we could understand each other, they would laugh at all my jokes that make you roll your eyes. Although, I know that if you were here with me, your eyes would be as big the faded religious paintings on the ceilings of the centuries-old golden churches. One day, I want to take you with me here.

I dream of a future where I can take you with me to the places I travel,

… and send you off to the fanciest malls with a check that matches the amount of all the sacrifices you made so that I could be here. I can picture you, not just getting excited over fat pugs, but walking with me holding full shopping bags with designer labels slapped on the sides. We would travel back home and you would gasp to your friends and sisters, “Oh but Dora, you don’t understand, the coffee shop we went to, it was like we were sitting inside a palace!” But until the day where you can walk around with YSL scarves from Greece and Louis Vuitton bags from Copenhagen, just expect more letters from me telling you all about fat pugs and dirty laundry.

Much love from your daughter,

-Sarah Barrientos

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