I went to Prague and a thousand spires greeted me; brushed the skies and toyed with the clouds. The streets were paved in legends and the walls adorned with history and every brick seemed to shine. Alleyways built mazes, and no two corner stores looked the same, and clock towers erupted from the ground and forged their way to meet with the heavens and all the colors of my kaleidoscope collided in a single frame. Performers seemed more abundant than pedistarans, as if the ballerinas I knew only from music boxes had climbed out just to dance on the cobblestones. Every person seemed to waltz instead of walk, dress to the highest standard, and speak with a formal edge unbeknownst to my ears. Languages interacted like old friends and the food was heavy in a way I can still feel and the coffee smelled like Starbucks’ superior older sibling and when I was dropped off at the airport, then only guessing at what that city would be, my whole family bid me goodbye and waited excitedly for my news.
But then I went to Virginia, a tucked away corner of it, where half of all clocks show the wrong time, and the walls are all slight variants on gray, and I know of a coffee shop that doesn’t even serve coffee. There is a single language spoken and single movie theatre and the tallest structure I can find is a church steeple two winters in need of a repair. There is no monumental architecture, no palace or castle, but there is a swing set where I first learned how to jump off without hurting my ankles, and a porch where I memorized my times tables, and a classroom where I forgot them, and a creek where we caught salamanders even though it was forbidden, maybe because it was forbidden, and there were people I loved, doing simple things, the way I loved them, in a place I loved more than Prague.