Dinner with Marek and Iveta in Stodůlky

 When I wake, it’s almost dark. I dress and make my way to Marek’s flat in Stodůlky (“small barns”) in Prague 13. This was a rural area when it was annexed to Prague is the 1970s; now it’s home to Jihozápadní Město (southwest city), a vast paneláky development begun in the 1970s and still being built. This is where Marek and Iveta live. Their Metro stop is called Luka. I get off and stand in the above-ground station, trying to remember which way to go. There are so many tall identical buildings that it’s confusing.

Luka Metro station
Just then I hear my name. “Elizabeth! How are you?” I turn and there is Marek. He’s been waiting on the Metro platform for me. That’s so typical of his kind and careful nature. Iveta is a lucky woman. I walk in his direction as he walks toward me, both of us grinning like idiots, as they say in the South. We hug and do the cheek kisses, then walk out of the station into the crisp evening air. It’s full dark now and the paneláky with their twinkling lit windows look festive and urban, not grimy and overwhelming as they do in the daytime.

At their building, Marek leads me into the small square lobby. It’s tidy and efficient. We take the modern lift to the 7th floor, where their flat is located. Iveta is waiting by the open door, smiling and hugging me like a country cousin. Inside the flat is freshly painted in that white with a grey undertone that I like so much; it sounds dreary but isn’t, as it catches and reflects every bit of the Northern light. We enter a tiny tiled vestibule, where I take off my shoes and choose myself a pair of house shoes (slippers) from the array of extras for guests. 

Over her pleased objections, I give Iveta the bottle of wine I brought. We go left into the living/dining room, a long space that ends in a big window and a glass door. Outside the black sky is huge. Marek takes me onto the balcony, which faces southwest, he tells me, giving them a spectacular sunset view. Now the sky is full of stars, a real treat so close to the city. “There is only farmland around us on this side of the building,” Marek says. “We are quite high up, and there are nice open fields and some hills far away.” I see why he was excited to move to this flat. He has the convenience of the Metro just minutes away with a view of the country out his window.

Iveta motions us back into the warm flat. She has set out some snack food, peanuts and pretzels, on the low table in front of the daybed. We sit and she brings in a pink rose-covered china teapot with matching cups. She pours and we drink our tea in companionable silence.

Meissen-teacup pinkrose by Miya

“Elizabeth, please to welcome at our home,” Iveta says. This is obviously a sentence she has memorized for my visit. I get a little teary-eyed at her hospitality, thinking how I didn’t like her when Marek first told me the surprising news that they were getting married. How little I understand people. I imagine that everyone around me is as caught up in the drama of my life as I am. The truth is that everyone is the star of his own life, where new plans are germinating underground and suddenly sprouting, shocking everyone except the star. 


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