Yesterday I finished the first drafts of the bulletin and my final internship evaluation; Sean finished the informatics year plan he improved and is passing on to the next generation of teachers. We rewarded our accomplishment by heading out to Open Doors Day at the Presidential Palace; once a year, the Slovak equivalent of the White House is open to the public. It is a big event, with lots of entertainment, free kofola, and a chance to meet the president and first lady and get their autographs (we did this, and our American greetings were received with surprise and warmth.)
Before we even got inside, however, there was, in good Slovak tradition, a program. A military band played surprisingly swingy, poppy tunes; majorettes twirled flawlessly; men in feathered hats shot blanks at each other in time to music, making us all jump and hold our ears in a delighted way. A well organized corp of the president's guard marched out to the center with their rifles to "Carmina Burana." As the group got into formation, the music quickly changed to "Misirlou", then to "Sweet Dreams Are Made of These" by the Eurythmics, and a professionally but also whimsically choreographed routine with dance and rifles unfolded. Another techno/dance tune followed, and Sean and I grinned at each other as we strained to see over the (now huge, excited) crowd.
At the end of the routine a new song came on; perhaps it had been added that morning. The soldiers marched in formation, stopping once to point their white-gloved hands to the sky. This version of Billie Jean made me remember all the other times I've heard that song this year: done in a Cab Calloway style at the Easter Market in Vienna, at various Lyceum events, while we shop for groceries at Billa. I will never forget this version: standing in the sun in front of the presidential palace in Bratislava, surrounded by Slovak school children, watching the precise choreography of the president's guard, hearing the MC announce after the routine, in Slovak, that it was dedicated to the memory of Michael Jackson.
It was just right. I am going to miss this place.