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The Paper Bridge

A Return to Budapest

Monica Porter is a former child refugee of the 1956 Uprising, who grew up in New York and later settled in London. In 1980 she journeyed back to Hungary with her small son Adam, full of curiosity about her homeland.

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From the book

…it occurred to me that my entire trip to Hungary was an attempt to build a bridge of my own, some kind of construction which would allow me to pass from one side of my life to the other, from childhood to adulthood, from East to West, from my inherited background to the life which I have chosen to lead in London.

And it seemed fitting to picture my bridge as being one long chain. Each encounter, each conversation, each discovery (no matter how infinitesimal) was another link in the chain, And one day it would all be spread out before me to examine and test.

But I knew, also, that I would have to tread carefully. I had a feeling that my construction might not necessarily last a lifetime. In fact, it was more like a paper bridge, delicate and lightly assembled. And something which is made of paper must be taken out once in a while and checked, handled gently. It may require another bit of glue here or there. The greatest danger is neglect. If you forget about it, one day you will find it in pieces, and then what was the point of building it in the first place? ”

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