Monday 1 May 2023

Where Were You When... Take 2

There hasn't been much posting here recently, for a number of reasons that can be summed up as "Real Life". I have a whole bunch of unposted, unfinished posts in the background. Waiting for photos and stuff like that. I even had my usual Easter post written for this year, and then I... I don't even know. Fell asleep? I was ill over Easter this year, so that seems like a probable explanation.

Google reminded me that it's Labour Day today. As an explanation, I did not exactly forget what day it was; a Monday off is easy to remember. But I've gotten used to thinking of it simply as "First of May", probably because there is more than just Labour Day connected to the date in Czech culture (such as our Day of Love proudly distinct from Valentine's, and Maypoles, and stuff). So. I got reminded it's Labour Day, and I remembered something from many years ago, and it both amused me all over again, and reminded me it's been nearly twenty years since we officially joined the EU, back in 2004. Which is a bit of a weird realisation. It doesn't exactly feel like it (maybe in part because we did not join the Schengen Zone until later) - until I remember where I was back then and where I am now.

Back in 2004, I crossed the border from Germany to Czechia on April 30th, on the return journey from a week-long school exchange trip. It felt rather symbolic. First of May fell on a weekend that year. I can't remember which day exactly, but I think it was Saturday. (I should probably be able to find out for sure, but I don't feel like it.) I do know it was a weekend, because that same weekend a weekend youth event in our presbytery was taking place, and I went there a day later, on May 1st, because I had been in Germany. All those events lining up is why I think it was Saturday.

After I arrived, my sister told me that that morning, the person responsible for waking everyone up walked into the room where they had been sleeping, and announced something like: "Rise and shine! Early bird gets the worm! We'll celebrate Labour Day with labour! And other than that, we're in the European Union."

Which always amused me, and did so again today.

If I remember correctly, the labour in question was helping out in the parsonage garden. I remember running around with a barely cooperative old lawnmower at some point, and I think it was that particular parsonage garden, so I think the memories slot together. I can't be sure anymore, though. It's been nearly twenty years.

So it's a bit of an interesting exercise in memory retainment and retrieval. A good deal of the memories can be retrieved with the help of other factors, like a historical date, and knowing how the weekend events usually went so knowing Saturday makes the most sense. But I don't actually remember. I need those mnemonics to put the memory together. The actual memories are fragmented, more like isolated images, and some of those images may not be from this particular time.

* * *

A while ago, I found this quote:

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."

And found out it came from here.

Ayn Rand passed me by completely, and the more I learn about her, the more I'm glad she did. I think overall she's more of an American phenomenon. The Lord of the Rings, on the other hand, entered my life much earlier than at fourteen, and I'm also very glad of that. What a poor childhood it would have been without it. (I can't remember when I first read it. It wasn't entirely in one go because we were borrowing the books.)

So I can't remember if there was any book that "changed my life" at fourteen in particular.

Did I read The Last Hero at fourteen? (My first Pratchett, incongruously, because, as a heavily illustrated book, it ended up in the children's section of the library while the rest of the Discworld books were in the adult section.)

I can't remember.

I know I first read Pan Tadeusz earlier. By about a year or two years, I think, based on when Wajda's film came out.

The only conclusion I can make is that fourteen was not a particularly life-changing age for me. Zooming in on it, in the quote, feels rather random to be honest, which of course makes a lot more sense when you realise it was just a rather random, irreverent paragraph coloured by personal experience, quickly fired off in a blog post.

This, too, is that sort of blog post.

* * *

The previous post of this kind was from 2014. It serves, in a way, as an example of its own kind. There's the mention of me and my sister discussing big countries bent on acquiring and retaining territory at all costs. It was, of course, in reference to Russia and the annexation of Crimea. At this point, I'm honestly not sure if I should say it aged well, or it didn't age well. I think the observation I made back then did? I think I'm still glad to live in this country. We have loud grumblers, and out share of problems, but overall, it's still a good country to live in.