This morning was grey and icky. I was awake half the night with a cough. I took one look out the window this morning and thought, “Maybe I shouldn’t have changed my ticket after all…” Originally, I was to have left yesterday, but for one reason or another, I pushed my return date back 5 days. Now much more stressed and several hundred dollars poorer, I wondered, “Why exactly did I think that was a good idea?” I finally managed to drag myself out of bed, wrap up in my Ukrainian coat, and brave another moody day in Kiev. I told myself, “I need Wi-Fi. I need Wi-Fi. I need… Oh! Pizza!” Yes, the bakery had pizza again.
Which is how I ended up at the lake once more, happily lunching and flicking pieces of crust to the pigeons. One little bit and they swarmed me like locusts. Or a real-life reenactment of “Feed the Birds” from Mary Poppens, though not nearly as beautiful or moving. I pondered how nice it is that no one bothers me, and how I don’t mind sitting here alone with only pigeons for company, and how much I’ll miss this pretty view, and generally tried to convince myself not to mope or be lonely or wonder what’s going to happen in the next few days.
And then I noticed this old grandfather walking by, smiling away at me. When I happened to meet his eye, he just grinned and said, “priyatnovo appetita”. Enjoy your meal. It struck me as so funny, but rather sweet. It was one of those little moments, nothing major, and yet it made me feel better.
A couple of days ago, I was over at my neighbor’s flat, and her 10 year old daughter Anya, brought out her english books to show me what she was learning in school. I ended up helping her, and reading with her. And then we made little clay figures.
It was one of those moments that doesn’t seem so important, until she wanted to give me gifts. And I realized that having an English speaker around was maybe a bigger deal than I first realized.
I have to wonder what it is exactly that makes me dread returning to America. Am I worried I’ll get sucked down in the everyday undertow? That I’ll get lazy and forget everything I’ve experienced here? Or is it simply that for 7 years I thought a trip to Ukraine was impossible. That the small and seemingly ordinary events that led up to my great adventure in Kiev are nothing short of miraculous to me. That this is my dream come true. Maybe I don’t want to wake up. Maybe I changed my ticket because I’m terrified that if I leave, I’ll never be able to come back. That I’ll have to wait another 7 years.
I don’t pray for specific things very often. I prefer to listen, not chatter. I try to be low maintenance. But sometimes I catch myself wandering around the roads of Kiev mumbling, maybe even begging, “One month is not enough. Please, don’t make me wait another seven years. Please.”
Maybe it’s walking through a city with a thousand years and more of history, where even the air feels old, knowing I have heritage here.
Maybe it’s being an Orthodox Christian in a country where there’s a cathedral every few feet.
Maybe I was beguiled by the Kiev night, sparkling eyes, and an accent that sounds like music. Or maybe it was that beer…
Maybe here magic can still happen. Or maybe its understanding that life is hard, and not knowing how or if I can help, but wanting to try anyway.
Maybe its the little things: pizza by the lake, a little girl learning English, old friends and new ones, long walks around memorials to war, starvation, and death.
I’m nothing really special or outstanding. The only remarkable skill I have is that I’m a licensed massage therapist. I don’t even speak Russian that well. And I learned Russian to go to Ukraine, of all places, where I might possibly be better off studying Ukrainian. I’m not even that clever of a writer. As far as I can tell, the only thing I’ve got going for me is my desire to be here and the support of an awful lot of people back home. (By the way, thanks, guys!)
Sometimes it’s still hard to believe I’m actually here in Kiev, Ukraine.
A really really big thank you to all my friends and followers for all your support. I wouldn’t be here without you. Love and kisses!
P.S. Sorry that I don’t know the names of all the places, or how to spell them. Some of them, I don’t actually know in English, so if anyone can help me out, leave a comment, and I’ll fix it. Thanks!