I’m a tourist in my hometown – Interview with Luca and Réka
Two Hungarian girls fell in love in Hoboken, lived in NYC, then returned to Budapest. Let’s meet Réka and Luca!
Where are you from? We’re both from Hungary.
What is your day-to-day life like? Réka: I am a nonstop time-juggler, a partial superhero in solving problems at a very popular restaurant in the city. Currently planning on becoming a local tour guide as well. Also, a 100% foodie. Luca: I work for a Belgian IT company, doing a little bit of everything as an office manager.
Where else have you lived besides Hungary? Only in New York City.
Where did you meet one another? Luca: Hoboken, New Jersey. I’ve known Réka’s mother and aunt before I met her. Réka: As soon as I’ve seen her I was instantly attracted to her. I only wanted a one-night stand though, as I had no previous experience on this territory. Luca: I was having a great time hanging out with her, but I had no clue she was interested in me in that way. I am clueless when reading signs. This was in 2011. Réka: I had to tell her in the end what I wanted exactly as she was oblivious to my flirting. We got married at City Hall 4 years later.
What did you know about the US before moving there? We both spent some vacation time in the U.S. before moving to NY, not knowing of course that one day it will be our long-term home.
Did you experience any cultural shock? Réka: I wouldn’t say cultural shock, rather amazement. When I first visited in 2001, I was just blown away by the diversity of people and how they (seemingly) got along, living next to one another.
What are your favorite things about Budapest? Réka: This is a tricky question as it is my hometown, so I’m biased. Maybe I can say WAMP (a Sunday art market), the development of gastronomy, the bridges, and tram #2. Luca: As much as I love technology and new things, upon moving back to Budapest I am loving every detail of old trams, buses and their sounds. In addition, I also love where we live in Wekerle-telep (a living complex in the 19th district), as it has 100+ year-old houses and a strong community.
Anything specific you’d suggest a visitor while in Budapest? Luca: The aforementioned Wekerle-telep. I’d be a bad tour guide. I’ve missed so much change in the city, I’m a tourist in my hometown. Réka: How much time do we have? To be serious, here are a few: the market hall in Hold Street, Széchenyi or Gellért Bath, the Fröhlich Kosher Pastry Shop and the observation deck of the Basilica.
What do you think of gay life in Budapest? Do you partake in the community? Luca: I still feel that I’ve just moved back even though it’s been almost 2 years now. It’s all about daily life routine and finding quality downtime. We’re not the party-kind of people so the last event we took part in was the Pride parade last summer.
How was gay life in New York City compared to Budapest? Oh-so-free. Or at least that is what we experienced. Definitely way more open and welcoming than Budapest. No bad experiences here so far, but we can’t be as much as ourselves as in NY. Across the ocean it’s an ordinary thing to see LGBTQ couples kissing, holding hands, doing normal couple stuff. One time when we were making out waiting for the subway, a random guy in his 20s came up to us and said he hasn’t seen anything sexier than that.
What do you think of Hungarian women? Luca: The only way I can answer this is when I worked as a bartender in NYC a lot of people said Hungarian women are the prettiest.
If there was a woman who was coming out, what’s something you’d want her to know about being LGBTQ+? Funnily enough we don’t think of ourselves as lesbians per se, but rather two ordinary people who happen to be two women.
How do you deal with diversity from colleagues, family and friends? Luca: Our closest friends, family members and colleagues know that we’re together. So far, we’ve had only positive feedbacks/reactions. We’re very lucky. Réka: I’ve heard some negative comments, but they were not directed at me, they were just general comments towards LGBTQ+ people. I know these are just generalizations.
What do you miss most from your time in the US? Luca: Target! Seriously though, besides supermarkets, it’s the salary-expense ratio and the conveniences. I also miss my best friend, Haesel. Swiping my Metrocard. Hearing the subway door chime. The smell (and taste!) of bagels. Réka: I miss the buzz and the vibes of the city. SoHo. My friends. Ethiopian food and Sushi Sushi at 125th Street. Sunset on Brooklyn bridge.
What is something that you have learned while in the US that you’ll carry with you? Luca: Quite a lot. After spending most of my adult life there (13 years is a long time!), it wasn’t easy to move back. I was alone in the beginning, so I had to be completely independent and self-sufficient. I’ll definitely carry the openness to other people with me and knowing that I can rely on myself. Réka: My knowledge of English and the strengthened feeling that I can accomplish whatever I want.