smokingWe are walking to the metro when the three boys stop us. I say “boys,” but really, they are young men, in their early twenties. They are looking for an Italian place in the neighborhood that does takeout. They speak English with an accent—Dutch, maybe German?—and we point them in the right direction. As my cousin explains which way they need to go, I marvel at how cool this is—that in the middle of Budapest three boys can stop two women and expect that they will speak English.

My cousin and I look at each other as they walk away and we burst into laughter. We both nod towards the boy we find cutest with his long, blond hair, and that careless, exotic accent. We laugh, because not that long ago—20, 25 years?—we would have walked with these boys to the Italian place. They would have asked us to walk with them. We would have told them about our city and my cousin would have known about the popular clubs and we would have gone there to drink cheap wine and Coke and hope for a kiss in some dark corner.

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