It’s been a good many years since I’ve gotten geeked about a birthday, but yesterday was glorious.
Knowing my significant love of vegetables, some of the others on the program made me a cake that looked like a tomato from above, which they would have surprised me with except that I got hungry for some cocoa oatmeal and wandered into the guys’ kitchen down the hall in search of our shared cocoa powder. They were just putting the finishing touches on the frosting, and I was, in fact, quite surprised and quite overjoyed.
After dinner at our professor’s flat, we went out to a place called Instant, which is a ruins bar on the Pest side of the city. It’s essentially a bar in an abandoned apartment building, hiply decorated by Budapest art students with rooms that look like everything from a dentist’s office to an interrogation room to an ordinary living room, but with the furniture bolted to the ceiling.
But the atmosphere of debris isn’t removed, either. Like Szimpla Kert, another ruins bar in the city, the roof lets in the sky, and the plaster on the walls (if it’s there at all) is crumbling and covered in love notes, sketches, and bits of advice. It’s not just a reclamation of ruins, but a celebration of them.
It reminded me of the latest issue of Orion Magazine, which has a number of pieces about urban decay and the possibilities that lie buried in rubble of America’s industrial heartland. I’m not sure what future lies in decay, but I do know that places like Instant are anything but a blight on the landscape.
With good drinks, great friends, and hours of conversation, our evening in the ruins bar was utterly life affirming.