10 July 2007

Well, my long lost, it's been a while, ain't it?

It has been practically two months since I last posted on this blog and I thought about giving it up, just abandoning it, and letting it die from neglect. But I seek some excitement and when you share something, when someone appreciates what you share, it makes it that much more exciting and valuable. I don't think anyone reads this blog anyway, but we'll give it a shot, regardless.

I don't live in Russia anymore, and in some ways, I'm kind of sad about that. Provo is a much less interesting town to hang around in, but at the same time, I can communicate (potentially) with everyone in it, in a language we commonly speak, and so it provides a bit more to think about. I guess I'm into connections with words, because I have to admit that being lost by yourself in foreign cities is not the most interesting thing.

What happened to me in the last two months?

Very early in the morning on June 4, my host family drove me to airport in Moscow for my outbound flight. The sun was rising at 3:30 AM. Maya held my hand and hugged me for the last time, as she always did. And they stood at the gate that they couldn't go past and watched me leave with my large red bags that weren't even mine. I couldn't do anything but say 'bye' to myself (my hands were occupied) and look at them as they watched me leave them.

I backpacked through Europe with Moscow 2 people (Rachel, Dallin, Emily, Christina) and Dan. We went to Germany, then Switzerland, then France, and then England. I wore the same pair of pants every day for more than two weeks. I lived in hostels. I got sick of traveling but it was one of the coolest things I have done, probably. I was shocked in London by being able to hear language that I could comprehend fully (I speak English, and so do they.), and shocked by the use of a hair straightener. It felt like my hair just grew two inches in one day. It was a miracle. While I was in Switzerland, I tried to hike the Schillthorn (a mountain in the Alps) without a trail. I dropped my camera into a river and lost all of the pictures, the memory card itself, and the camera, of course. Как всегда. I had to write an e-mail to my host dad about that.

On June 19, I flew home from Frankfurt to SLC. On the 10 hour flight from Frankfurt to Denver, I didn't sleep a wink. I tried, but it wasn't working out for me. I missed my flight from Denver to Salt Lake and made Dallin miss it with me. So we spent a few more hours in the Denver airport. I did Sudoku. I was very tired. The United States looked very ugly and hot to me. When I got to Salt Lake, I had to wait at the airport for a while for my brother to come and get me. My cousin, Jenny, was with him. It seemed all a little too familiar to me, like I hadn't been gone at all. Even though I was gone for five months. They joked that Jenny hooked back up with her ex-fiance and I believed them. I'm so gullible.

I lived at home for a while and didn't have the motivation to put my life together. People told me I'd have culture shock and jet lag coming back to America again but I didn't believe them in the same way I didn't believe it when they told me to expect that when I left America for the first time. I did have jet lag. I did have culture shock. The most shocking moment occurred when I came to my apartment before I actually moved in, and there were several people in a small area, several conversations going on, everyone was the same age, and there were boys. I didn't feel like I could handle social interaction like that for a while, it seemed like too much. Not to sound boastful, but it was weird to say things without a reason, when no one was listening to me. It was confusing that people talked without listening to each other. That no one was listening to every word that was coming out of my mouth and sometimes the things that I didn't say. That no one was studying to know me anymore and that my presence was suddenly unfelt and temporary in a place. That I wasn't missed when I left because right now is governed by the principle of change. And it was weird to me how people are friendly to strangers and smile at each other for no reason, among a lot of other things. That is beyond comprehension for a Muscovite, maybe. I think I stayed awake for a 72-hour period, but I'm not sure. It could have been less. I really missed my host family. I think I cried two times since I came back.

I moved into my apartment in Provo and started school on June 25. I am taking Russian (every day, 12-2), a religion class on temples, and a Music/Humanities class. It's 9 credits but the only one I have to do actual work for is Russian. I have been looking for a job too, but I keep getting rejected. I have gotten several e-mails and I think that I would rather receive no response than the e-mail that says, "We're sorry, but your application was not chosen for further consideration. There were a lot of qualified applicants and it was a very difficult decision. But we wish you the best of luck in your job search." Great, thanks. Why can't I just have my old job back? I can't believe that I ever left that job. It was like home.

The weather is stinkin' hot and I hate this heat, it makes me miss my forest in Moscow where the shade was cool, where I liked to гулать с Лилей и Маей и собакой. It's dry and the sun beats down on you. Maybe when you can't tell the sun is making it hot it might be a little bit better...you can start to pretend that it's not really hot outside because it looks somewhat gloomy, as it always does. But that's not true, it's just a difference in humidity. And maybe I do really prefer dry heat. The humidity makes you feel gross and sticky and you can't really keep your hair straight. If you care about that. I guess this whole thing makes me sound really shallow because I keep talking about my hair. I do have to say, though, that I lived in Russia for 5 months without every straightening my hair. No, not once. And I was chubby, did I say that? Yeah, I gained some weight while I was there, but then I lost it. I was sick of feeling uncomfortable all the time, like I had just finished eating a feast. Fat is not a good feeling. I was disgusted with myself. But now I am okay.

Here I am in Provo, right now, and I'm still weirded out by that even though it's been a while. I think the desert is ugly and Utah seems pretty ugly in most places. I think I'm pretty much adjusted and I actually think I'm a little happier here because I am not too lonely anymore. I can drive a car around on the streets, somewhat competently, is that not weird? Here I am, and I know a little bit more than just the basics. But I still do really stupid things all of the time. That hasn't changed. It was almost better in Russia because I had a scapegoat for my stupidity: I was an American who didn't speak Russian very well and had never been there before. But what's my excuse here?

I keep wanting to take all the people I love here and go back to Moscow. I want to go back when I can communicate. I realized that even though I was in one place long enough for things to become routine and familiar, I never got over feeling like I was in a foreign place, that I was a foreigner. I think that's because I never could understand everything that was going on around me. But now that I look back on it, it feels like a memory that is the same as all of my other memories, no matter where they occurred. The fact that I was in--where was I, Germany?--a month ago feels the same as it feels to say that I was in Layton three weeks ago, or somewhere in the Provo Canyon Mountains a year ago. It's all the same. You are the same. Not completely the same, but you're still you.

But it's rather funny. Will you come with me to Moscow? I'll take you to meet my host family. We'll sit at the table with them and eat and talk a lot. We can go for a walk in the forest when we are there, if it's warm. If it's not warm, we don't have to do that. Then we can ride the metro to the museum or the nearest Russian Orthodox Church, where we will catch a whiff of the strange incense from the candles as they rise up with the prayers of the devout and we can look at the ever-present icons. And we would wonder about what Russia was like in the past because there are 800 years of history beneath our feet. And we could wonder how that makes a difference, or realize that it maybe doesn't. We can go to a concert, any kind of concert that you could imagine. We can go to Ashan and buy pizza and eat it in the store. We can drink kakarde and take off our shoes to exchange for slippers at the door. We can walk into a place that you can settle into immediately, where everywhere is your domain. You don't have to wait to put your stuff down until you get to your room. Maybe we can just ride the metro around and pretend like we're going somewhere. We can stand really close to, even be touching, complete strangers. We could see how ghetto dirty Moscow is. Where history sidles up with the gutters of consumerism and makes friends. Where you can feel disgusted and inspired simultaneously. We could see best and the worst in one glance. The worst show man can put on in the best part of God's earth, or maybe it's the best show of man in the worst of circumstances. I'm not sure. And we could smell the mixture of that dirt with that cologne that everyone wears. If it's cold we wouldn't want to ride the bus too much because the windows get iced over and you can't see out of them, and you get rather cold riding on the bus without moving. Your toes feel numb and your nose hairs crystallize.

Somebody asked me the other day why I chose to go to Russia and learn Russian. I don't really know, but I'm glad I went.

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