It All Comes Down to Relationships, Connections and Communication

On January 9th Nathan and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary, which means we have been together about 17 years.

Of course, I celebrated by taking a bus and a train from Zdiar to Bratislava, and then eating spinach and chicken pirohy followed by a decadent streussal for dessert. Nathan worked and then spent the evening with Sarah.

Strange anniversary, wouldn’t you say? But I don’t regret it one bit.

To make up for it, Nathan and I are heading to a Bed and Breakfast somewhere for the night. I don’t know where, and he decided to keep it a surprise.

Sometimes surprises are good for a relationship, just as sometimes time apart can help strengthen the bonds.

As I thought about this, I realized that one thing that we all have in common, no matter where we are from, is the desire for connection, for love, for relationships. Those relationships and connections come in all shapes and sizes. Some are healthy, some are not. Some require constant tending, and some freedom to breathe

On this trip, I observed a lot of different relationships, and a lot of ways of communicating within those relationships. Communication, however, is key, even across the barriers of culture. Some of the relationships I observed included:

  • the young married couple who do everything together, including running the theater company, travelling, working, helping, dreaming, and planning for the future. They are still very much in the honeymoon stage, and watching them together gives even the hardest heart hope for the power of a truly committed couple
  • the young couple who met on one of these adventures and balance each other perfectly. They both love writing and words and travel and people. He is more reserved, she is more outgoing, but the things that differ between them make them a stronger whole.
  • The very newly married Roma couple who,  as someone else said, “Are two puzzle pieces that fit together perfectly.”
  • The husband and wife owners of a Privat, who were perhaps the most adorable people I’ve every met. She was sweet and had a kind smile. He went out of his way to fix my glasses when they broke. You just know they are extremely happy together, and it shows in the comfort of their home.
  • The businessman/celebrity couple where I only met the celebrity half. She was supposed to be our guide on this trip, but she had to back out because he was going to America for business and if she wanted to see him she would have to go to. Oh, to have the flexible freedom to travel at the drop of a hat.
  • A slightly strange love triangle, which I will not go into here. Let’s just say that in situations like this, sometimes people try to create connections out of thin air, either as part of the adventure or because they are surrounded by other couples.

As much of this trip was about making connections, since the goal for Dramatic Adventure Theatre was to start a relationship with people in the country to establish the possibility of future projects (we were very successful), I found myself thinking a lot about how we connect and communicate with each other. One thing I realized is how often we learn to connect to each over meals. I wonder if the world’s problems could be solved by simply breaking bread together?

Our first meal as a group in Slovakia. I had beef goulash which was delicious. I loved the warm, cozy atmosphere of this traditional Slovakian restaurant.

Cozy colors and curves make for a comfortable atmosphere to make connections.

During the first couple of nights of the trip we stayed at a hostel in Bratislava. Now I have, I admit, outgrown the desire to stay in hostels. The first night was especially challenging because of the group of loud Russian travelers who spent the night smoking, drinking, and arguing right outside our window. However,  it was a fun and inexpensive way to get to know some of my fellow travelers. The girl’s bright orange and yellow room became the location of  a lot of silly hilarity including a fake fur muff turned elaborate head piece and a visit from a “ghost.”  All, of course, as we began to learn to communicate with each other and make connections.

Silly stuff at the hostel.

The hostel became the first place where I began to understand the thing that connects all human beings–the search for connections, relationship, friendship, understanding and love.  During our second night there my sleep was disturbed by a loud discussion under my window, a discussion that I understood even without hearing every word. Here is an excerpt from my journal written in the wee hours of the morning:

“I awoke early from a sleep filled with both heaviness and distraction all night long. I accidentally pulled the cord attached to the red lamp on the ledge above my head, pulling it down on me. The lamp itself has been humorous as it sat in the window overlooking an alley which isn’t exactly in the “nicest” part of town. “We’re open for business,” I jokingly say as I turn the red light on in the darkness of the night.

I would have gone back to sleep, if not for the discussion being held under my window in heavily accented (British or Kiwi or Australian) English. I don’t need to hear word for word this conversation to understand that it involves women, jealousy, friendships, alcohol, random hookups, stupid mistakes and a little fear. All that asked me, no forced me, to start writing, not just this journal entry but a ‘shitty first draft’ poem that staggered out of my pen, rather than flowed.”

Here is the poem that began me thinking about relationships and communication:

“It All Comes Down to Communication.”

Voices carrying in passionate discussion
from the street below.
Anger, sadness, frustration
in accents that challenge the ear.
I don’t need to understand,
I’ve heard it all before.

The discussion will continue
but end without cure
As language pours upon
blocked ears.Unwillingness
to hear, to listen.
I don’t need to understand,
I’ve heard it all before.

One cries, one lectures, one breaks tension with jokes.
Women arguing over men, broken hearts
and broken friendships.
I don’t need to understand,
I’ve heard it all before.

Sudden silence as they disappear
leaving behind the echoing remnants
of words said from heart and gut
completely bypassing the ears.
I don’t need to understand,
I’ve heard it all before.

The voices return with a new one in the mix.
Male tones join the fray.
Church bells ring the early morning
as the debate starts the day.
I don’t need to understand,
I’ve heard it all before.

Difference doesn’t matter.
Language doesn’t matter.
We all live lives filled
with love, hurt, pain, jealousy
with fears, hopes sadness and joy.
I don’t need to know the language,
I’ve seen it all before.

If everyone learned to really listen
and hear the humanity inside
then we would focus on
connections and understanding.
Body language reveals the not-so-hidden tensions
between people who’ve never met
filled with the hatred and judgement of centuries,
of culture, of difference.

I  don’t need to understand, I’ve known it all before.

Photo taken by Isa McKinney. Visit her blog for more insight into our Slovakian Adventure. (I've linked the picture to her blog)

%d bloggers like this: