Holy cow! Today was fantastic! I’m on top of the world right now! Whoo!
So to start things off, I came to work/school early to find that they were playing Great Big Sea’s “Ordinary Day” over the loudspeakers. The juxtaposition of hearing Newfoundland musicians while watching the Ukrainian 16-19 set file into the Academy on a bright, sunny day was just too much. I sprang into work as I always do – well, I like my work. Especially now when it’s surrounded by so many social opportunities.
Case in point: Just as I was leaving work Lena texted me, asking when she could meet me to give me a “present,” a slice of a wedding cake she salvaged from the wedding she attended this past weekend. I don’t know enough about Ukrainian culture to question the motivation, but let’s hope she’s not getting any ideas. =) Anyway, I gave her a pin and we agreed to meet tomorrow, and that was that. I was a little bit sad, because that left me with nothing to do for the evening, but whatever. So I cheerfully walked towards the Academy gates.
This happens a lot.
I got talking to Nina and her boyfriend Slavic, and then Inna came by as well. It was great. I love these friendly exchanges. Anyway, I was invited to come by their dorm tomorrow, which was graciously rescheduled to Sunday. Tonight they have the Ukrainian equivalent of Driver’s Ed. From what I’ve seen of the way people drive here (wherever there is space; today I saw someone swing around a corner mere feet from a woman and her small children who were crossing), I wouldn’t have been aware that such a thing existed. Canada World Youth of course prohibits driving, but in Ukraine this is a moot point for me, because I don’t want to die.
Okay, so now I’m going home, lost in thought and enjoying the beautiful evening. Then I open my cell phone and see that I missed a call. Oh, it was Roma! (Roma from the previous exchange.) I call him back; it turns out he needs to borrow my camera to take pictures of his Boy Scout troupe to send back to Kyiv. Wow, good thing I was near downtown at the time. So that’s taken care of. Alright, NOW I can go home. =)
So I make it home, wipe off my shoes, open the door – and there’s Roman with a nice shirt and a bag packed. “Going somewhere?”
Yes, he was going to Rivne, the capital of our oblast of the same name (this is absurdly common in Ukraine; there are only two or three oblasts that don’t share names with their capitals), where they have modern conveniences such as supermarkets. He’s going for a few days, for military training.
A light bulb blew up in my head. I asked him, on behalf of myself and Olya (our (host) sister) if he’d be so kind to make us copies of the house key, if he could. (Olya was finishing her Masters’ degree in Poland when our (host) parents changed the locks, so she also doesn’t have a key.) Roman said he’d try. Cool. Realistically, I realize that finding a place that cuts keys might be hard even for a Ukrainian, because most shops don’t have giant signs in front of them and I don’t know what the phone books are like here. Probably not too bad, but then again, making a phone call would cost him money.
Anyway, that’s neither here nor there; I’m just rambling. This is one of the few times that I’m blogging without a specific goal in mind. I am/was just so happy that I wanted to share it. See you!
Update: I had supper and tea with Olya, then settled in for a nice quiet evening of drawing maps and writing stories to go with them. Naturally, Dima phones me and invites me to the disco. When I get there, it turns out he’s got four girls at his table. Over the course of the evening I meet what seems to be the entire student body of the economics department at Ostroh Academy, and I think I promised two very silly girls that I’d teach them some English on Thursday. They were like the minor sisters in “Pride and Prejudice” – just outrageously silly. Anyway, I had a really good time – perhaps the most fun weeknight out I’ve ever had. (This is like, to quote John Flansburgh, being the World’s Tallest Midget.*)
* - This has nothing to do with the subject at hand, but that’s one of my favourite interview bits ever. John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants is on British TV, back when “Birdhouse in Your Soul” made the top-20. They’ve just released their first major-label album, Flood. Interviewer: “You were the number one independent group in the US.” Flansburgh: “Well, that’s like being the World’s Tallest Midget...”
I hope I don’t come off as conceited or arrogant right now; part of me is simply relishing the fact that there was no way that any of this could have happened in Bedford two-to-twelve years ago, and I feel like I’m reliving the good times I missed out on due to my short-sightedness. I also make a point of telling myself that the good times won’t last forever. Next to that is a memo saying, “No more going to the disco on Tuesdays.”*
* - Every time I go out on Tuesday I remember Professor McDonald’s assessment of Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night, a character that represented the excesses of revelry and indulgence: “His weekend begins on Tuesday.”