You’re Never Too Far From Home

21 Apr

I cannot even describe how unexpectedly awesome this 3-day-weekend was. For most it was just a normal 2-day-weekend, but here in Prague, like most European cities, they celebrate Easter on Monday instead of Sunday. Cue us all getting that extra day off & hey, this tradition sounds like a great idea!

Saturday: Feeling At Home in The Nature

Since the weather was beautiful, Filip & I decided to take advantage of it the best way possible–by exploring the great outdoors! Or, in Czech terms, “The Nature”. “The Nature” we explored more specifically was Divoká Šárka, this giant nature reserve  just on the outskirts of the city that I had heard was a must-see. Turns out it totally was. 

We packed a picnic consisting of bread, cheese, fruit & chocolate (I am still very much a Parisian at heart), I threw on my hiking clothes & we headed out. We spent the next 5hrs exploring the beautiful woods, babbling brooks, little waterfalls & then, scaled a legit cliff face in order to get to the top. My legs were burning, my forehead was all sweaty & I was wheezing like crazy, but it was SO WORTH IT.

 Image(Above: Pictures cannot sum up how beautiful the highest point overlooking Divoká Šárka actually is)

After our picnic, we just laid in the sun for a while & I really started thinking about how perfect the moment was. It was just a feeling of ultimate relaxation. I just felt so happy to be alive. I had experienced a similar feeling before in October when I went to Vienna for the first time. I can remember walking around the little trails & gardens behind Schonbrunn Palace all alone & just thinking this is happiness. Sometimes it’s just so nice to have some quiet time or a moment to pause & take in all the beauty around you. For me, our picnic in Divoká Šárka was this moment. 

Strangely enough, I also felt so at home in this moment. Back in my hometown, of Sutton, Massachusetts, we are kind of famous for this place called Purgatory Chasm. Aka: this place with a bunch of rocks where you can have picnics, hike all these woods trails & where Mama G gets about 50% of her summer 911 calls from because tourists are dumb enough to scale rock walls in flip flops.

Looking back on it, I guess I never really appreciated Purgatory Chasm, or the giant field across from my house, or my neighbors’ horse barns, or the fact that we have no streetlights on my road. I never got the chance to. Now that I have been living the city life for 9 months, I realized that I actually do miss those things. I miss the peace & quiet & simplicity. While cities have a lot of great parks to take jogs & walk your dog, the nature is where you can actually admire the true beauty of the Earth. So yes, as we laid in the sun feeling the cool breeze from on top of that giant hill, I felt like I was right back in Sutton, Mass.

Image(Above: I actually felt like I was in some uninhabited Swiss village or something, this reserve is definitely one of my fav places in Prague now)

Sunday: Feeling At Home in the Kitchen

Yes, you read that right. A girl whose culinary skills extend to sometimes not burnt grilled cheeses, simple salads & soup just wrote that she felt at home in the kitchen. Honestly though, I had no choice. Sunday was (American) Easter, which was a little hard. While I planned & planned my Christmas trip to France last December, I have to admit that this Easter really just kind of snuck up on me. And I had no idea how much it would affect me. 

At home, Easter begins with running downstairs to baskets that the Easter Bunny brought that are overflowing with chocolate, then we all get dressed up for church & then head to my cousin’s for dinner. This year, I was completely planless. But I refused to allow this to be a miserable day. Since Filip also had no plans we decided to celebrated together. (Hint: holidays away from home feel so much more at home when you celebrate with the people abroad you love). 

I told him we could celebrated American Easter together on one condition–it had to be properly festive! This meant pastel colored outfits, chocolate & a delicious meal! As previously stated, I am not really renowned for my kitchen skills, but it was either whip up a giant meal or eat take out & I think Mama G, the culinary wizard, would die if she heard her daughter ate frozen pizza for Easter dinner! So I thought quick.

After a trip to the grocery store & a bottle of wine was popped open, I began chopping, boiling, slicing & mixing. I have to admit I felt so adult. And a little over an hour later a delicious meal of pepper lemon chicken breast, chive mashed potatoes, mixed veggies & warm fresh bread was ready to be served! 

Image(Above: Me with my home-cooked Easter dinner! And no one got food poisoning either!)

Later on I called my family to wish them all Happy Easter. I could hear the shock in their voices when I told them about our dinner, but I knew they were proud. Even though I am really not the best cook, I was happy that I could step up to the plate (or the stove) when I needed to. Easter just wouldn’t be Easter without a home-cooked meal & making that dinner for Filip & I actually made me feel more at home. Because all I could picture was my own mom & aunts frantically rushing around the kitchen, putting the final touches on another perfect meal. And even though there were only two place settings at our Easter table this year, it still felt like a very special day.

Monday: Feeling At Home By Living Vicariously Through Others

Monday was the day that Czechs actually celebrate Easter. Before deciding to move to Prague, I was blown away by how WHIMSICAL some of the old Czech traditions were. As if St. Mickulas Day & eating Christmas carp weren’t enough, the Czech Easter traditions were definitely the best of all. 

According to tradition, on this day men are supposed to spank their women with willow branches in order to keep them fertile & beautiful (yes, you read that correctly). Afterwards, the women throw water on the men & then gift them with chocolate eggs. Filip & I were not about to break tradition! We promptly bought a colorful bundle of willow branches at the Easter market & some chocolate eggs for later. 

Image(Above: Hahaha so cute & fun, right?! Nooo. It was painful & gave me HUGE respect for Anstasia Steele for voluntarily doing such things!)

Later we followed through with tradition & it really hurt to sit down for a while. Until I snuck up on Filip & poured A TON of freezing water on him! We laughed & ate our chocolate eggs & hopefully next year’s Easter traditions will consist of just jelly beans & peeps.

While Monday was Czech Easter Monday, it was also another hugely important day–Marathon Monday (aka: Patriot’s Day). Based on New England tradition, on this day, the Boston Marathon has been held since 1897. And has since been a day where people from all over come to run, to be cheered on by college students, locals, tourists & anyone who wants to enjoy the beautiful tradition.

I do not need to go into detail as to why this year’s Boston marathon was so emotional, yet extremely powerful. More than anything I wish I was back home today to be there at that finish line with my city. But I couldn’t be so I celebrated my home pride as much as I could all weekend long. I hiked The Nature in my Red Sox hat, spent the weekend watching The Departed, Gone Baby Gone & The Town & spent the nights having long talks with tears in my eyes, trying to explain to my Czech boyfriend how overwhelmingly proud I am to be from such an amazing city. I truly cannot even put it into words. 

Today I spent the day glued to social media. Everyone’s pictures from the race made me so happy. An event that just one year ago was scarred by such tragic events was able to build itself right back up. While some may have been a little wary, they still showed up. They still stood screaming at that finish line, they still sat chanting in their #BostonStrong t-shirts at the Sox game afterwards & more people than ever before laced up those sneakers to take part in this great event. Not because it would get more media attention, not because it would be so heavily secure, but because it is a great tradition that makes our city what it is & nothing can take that away. 

Image(Above: Meb Keflezighi [left] & Rita Jeptoo [right] were the winners of the 2014 Boston Marathon)

To make this year even more special, today, for the first time since 1985, the Boston Marathon was won by an American. That actually gave me chills. Meb Keflezighi from California finished first for the men at 2 hours 8 minutes. Sure he wasn’t from Boston, on even the East Coast, but it didn’t matter. It was the fact that an amazing record was broken just one year after such horrible events. It was a little sign of hope. It was the very meaning of the words ‘Boston Strong’. 

So going back to the title of this post–it’s so true. You really are never too far from home. Even if you hop on a plane to fly 7 hours away, you are still very close to your roots. How? Because, no matter where you move, whether it be across the city or across the Atlantic you will always take a little piece of home with you. Home is memories. Home is traditions & community & most important of all, home is being with people you love. Even if the scenery has changed a little bit. 

So, dear readers, please no matter where you go–always keep important memories alive. You may not be home for Christmas, birthdays, or Easter but you can always improvise with the resources that you DO have wherever you happen to be on that day. If a day is special to you keep it that way! Don’t allow a little distance to completely break a tradition that you have been celebrating for so long. Find new ways to celebrate with new friends & if you always remember to surround yourself with love then you will never really be that far from home 🙂

-JG

 

 

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2 Responses to “You’re Never Too Far From Home”

  1. Ron April 22, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

    You old patriot you. That was beautiful

  2. Maureen Graves April 23, 2014 at 1:01 am #

    Great great blog….I loved it. As a parent is is so rewarding to know that the wonderful traditions and memories are part of you no matter where your passport and feet may take you.. …..Love and Miss You,,,Stay safe, happy and curious”Life is for Living”
    Love Mom

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