November 4th, 2005


follow-up and fallen leaves

Composed Tuesday, October 25th, in the evening.

Well, it all turns out that I needn't have worried and that I had no reason to be bitter. Isn't that always the case? As Calvin said, why does the Universe always give you the sign after you do it? In his case, it was hitting Susie with a water balloon, and then suffering the backlash. In my case, it's breaking-and-entering through a small, elevated bathroom window when I could have knocked.

After my delicious dinner of fried potatoes, fried eggs, and fried salo (they should just replace McDonald's with Your Ukrainian Kitchen - or YUK for short – no, seriously, it was delicious), Olya told me that she didn't see the SMS I delivered to her cell phone until this morning. So she and her mother asked me, almost laughing, if Volodim let me in. Nope. Was the door open? Nope. Then how did you get in?

"The bathroom window."

There was silence for a second, not in shock, but in lack of understanding.

"What? I don't understand you."

I asked a few linguistic questions and put together "bathroom" and "window" («Ванна вікно.») and made a gesture.

Well, that got a funny reaction, and advice that I ought to have knocked – if not on my own window, then my host mother’s. She said that she wouldn’t have minded getting up, but of course it would be better to explicitly say (as opposed to letting them assume or beaming along an SMS) that I needed a key left out, because then they would have. She also added, by way of a highly animated charade, that she’d have fainted at seeing me coming in the window.

(I did have a silly, internal reason not to simply ask for a key when I went out. I didn’t want to admit how long I’d be out since I feel guilty about that sometimes – that maybe I ought to be spending more of my evenings with them. Holy crap, I’m a mental disaster area. If I could just communicate more often and more honestly, I’d probably encounter far fewer obstacles in my life. Who has time for all of these stupid games but me? The whole world doesn’t share my creative, dark, suspicious imaginings – and thank goodness for that! Much as I sometimes think I’m chafing with my host family, I always come away astounded by their understanding and patience.)

This was all capped by the news that Volodim is gone for the rest of the week and won’t be back until Sunday. That means five consecutive nights of rest, comfort and ease. Niiiice. Olya was happy about this too, as it means she’ll have unfettered access to the computer to finish her papers (I suspect Volodim had to stay for just that reason). Poor Volodim! You know, he has his moments. I really do like him in small doses.

On a side note, the children had an unusually enthusiastic greeting for me today. After we exchanged “Hello!” sixteen times, they asked, “Will, what is your name?” This was too much, and so I turned around with a smile and said, “No, no, you can’t do that. ‘Will, what is your name?’ No, that’s like, «Виталик, як теве звати?» (“Vitalik, yak tebe zvaty?”) No sense. Wrong. No. Don’t. «Ні.»” But they just laughed and asked the same thing again. Or they’d ask “How are you?” and I’d say «Добре, дякую.» (“Dobre, dyakuyu,” for “Fine, thanks.”) I was practically on the other side of the neighbourhood before the last “Will, what is your name?” finally faded away. It provided a lovely aural frame for all the beautiful fall colours and falling leaves in the twilight. It’s nice to know that happiness is wherever you can find it, and sometimes it’s best found in Ostroh.

So, at length, we’ve reached the end of the Will’s Ukrainian Vacation serial. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed the experience of it.

Next update: Monday morning (or really late Sunday night, for you West-Coasters)