Revisiting the City of Sopron
Being close to Christmas and the New Year, my husband flew from the United States to Budapest to join me for the holiday. In Budapest, we enjoyed mingling in the festivities, dazzled by the lights while we sipped mulled wine and tasted pastries and roasted chestnuts from the street vendors. The next day, we rented a car and sped along the autobahn to Sopron, in the cultural part of Western Hungary. As we looked for a parking spot, I discovered that Sopron had many churches and statues of famous people. How could I have been so ill-prepared to think I would find the past I remembered? Sopron wasn’t a small town. It was a vibrant, bustling city, filled with tourists, and its many excavations of antiquities lay as reminders that this was once a province of the Roman Empire. I wondered how my memories of fifty years ago, memories through the eyes and thoughts of a child, could have been so naïve.
We treaded carefully along the cobbled streets—and a visceral reaction overcame me. I had lost a slice of time from my past. Was it my identity, my innocence, my roots? I felt that these had once belonged to me but now I had sadly misplaced them.Sopron had always taunted me. It was here, in November 1956, that my family found a safe house after we left Budaörs. From here, we fled to Vienna. From here, thousands of families like my own were ripped to pieces. I realized that what I was seeking were these pieces, these snippets, these landmarks. But there was nothing. And yet I recalled a late afternoon when we faced a distant horizon, with fog and drifting snow. That was when we escaped from Sopron, never to return to Hungary.