That last Sunday in Prague

Brad said he was getting up at 5 to photograph the Charles Bridge. That time of day, it’s only the serious photographers out and the drunks. He described scenes of people on their sides getting sick, some passed out, unclear if they were dead or alive: one, going through the grate in the street looking for money or tobacco.

We hit the street at 7 but nothing was open for breakfast until 9. So we ate at the Starbucks on Spálená—it was Starbucks where Brad and I met and started climbing together in 2001.

We wanted to get out before the sun got too high, so we went back over the bridge and up the long hill to the Czech Eiffel Tower and beyond, to Prague Castle. It’s there we talked about Brad’s mom, 89, the impermanence of things, life: how she won’t part with seemingly valueless things because they represent unique memories to her. How that becomes the sum of your life gathered in a room, and what that means.

We did all we could in Prague with our limited time and sense of the place. And after two weeks in Europe I came back with a handful of things myself, to commemorate the time: souvenirs, French for the word always.

Back home we hosted Dawn’s brother Chip and his family, from Colorado. And her other brother Rick, who brought their yellow lab Hudson, now big enough to pounce on our dog Ginger and pump her with his hips. I cooked for 13 people, with a meat and veggie option, and one of the cousins slept over on the couch, Katie.

The wildfires from British Columbia, the Olympic Peninsula, and eastern Washington smudge our skies and make it smell like a campfire outside. We keep our windows closed for the most part and have to think about running the AC in our car—small complaints for those closer to the fires. The web worms look like clots of snot in the trees and all the lawns are golden brown. We romanticize the coming rains of fall and the greening of the grass, the crunch of the leaves, the dark.

At work I’m learning all I can about a tech company called NVIDIA that I’m working with through October. They make chips and graphics processing units, and named themselves after the Latin word for envy, invidia. When they were starting up in the ’90s they named all their files NV for ‘next version,’ hence the name NVIDIA. These are the stories of our lives, that make us who we are.

Back at the lake on a Sunday morning it’s still and gray, not a sound, at 6. I remember what I can from Prague, but it all runs together. I have my things to look at that make me smile: a Tyrolean bell on our front door, the kind the cows wear in the Austrian Alps…the sound those bells make tinkling up the valleys. Memories for others, mine for a time too.


Categories: Memoir, travel, writing

Tags: , , , , , ,

14 replies

  1. Memories like smoke, stories that make up our lives.
    Enjoyed this very much, Bill. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. nice memories, and as you know, they are as temporary as the events themselves

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey Bill-I was in Prague in 1991 and loved my trip there. It seems just like yesterday I walked those streets and crossed over the Charles Bridge. Wow… Memories….thank you for making me remember…I laugh thinking of the old man that we did a tour with that spoke such bad English I am sure I learned absolutely nothing with him!!! hahahahahaha

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha ha ha ! What an interesting time that must have been there, with their recent liberation…how cool…and we’ll before the rest of the world’s tourists discovered it. Great to hear from you and hope you’re well, A!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes. Thats right. The liberation had just happened. I rented a flat from a woman who was a dentist for $7 / night. It was a pretty crazy time. I was stationed in Germany and thought why not drive there! Oh to be young again..

        Liked by 1 person

  4. These pieces about memories have been excellent. And I enjoyed the jolt, reading a poetic passage and then jarring surprise of “clots of snot in the trees” — a little surprise for the readers to walk into, as we go through the story. I’d never thought about the meaning of souvenir, vs momento vs keepsake, etc
    BTW The strangest thing just happened, as I typed this on my phone
    The spelling correction is on, and as I typed the words souvenir and Momento, The phone on it’s own initiative, popped in a short passage of poetry from somewhere. I do not recall my phone ever doing something like this before
    I erased it, and now do not really remember exactly what it said, or where the heck it came from, apparently your post is enchanted. Cool.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Snots of clot isn’t a phrase that’s going to stick, so to speak, in anything vaguely literary. But worth trying right! Nice to hear you had an unexplained intervention with your phone over the word Memento too, wonder if that has something to do with the film from around 2000?


      • I’d misspelled souvenir, and now realize, I got memento wrong, too. I just typed it again sourvenir Momento but nothing happened. I saw that movie, weird but cool. Eventually that guy was going to run out of room for more tattooed notes.


  5. My parents are getting ready to sell their house, my childhood home. They wonder what to do with all the stuff. Do I want 78 records I can’t play? If I could, I would. They posted photos of all the house rooms on the real estate site. It’s creepy. Ghostly.

    Liked by 1 person

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