“It takes an axe sometimes a fetter in the sunshine and bad weather it’s a matter of getting deeper in, anyway you can.”
I am fully aware that this is perhaps the height of arrogance, but sometimes I feel like everything that has transpired here over the past several hundred years has all been in preparation for my coming. A stage being set, waiting for my arrival.
As if Russia is just one ginormous surprise party thrown in my honor.
I was starving for food for thought and there are street vendors and neighborhood markets on every corner. There is so much for me to observe and look at and experience. It’s like a big mental playground. It’s like, Discovery Zone, and I got to rent out the entire facility for myself.
Some of the things that have really tickled my fancy
-The elevator in the dorms doesn’t go to my floor, so I have to take it up an extra story and walk down the stairs.
-The desks at school and in the dorm aren’t wide enough for the chairs to fit under so they just stick out awkwardly.
-Going into/out of the metro at Premorskaya the hand rail on the escalator moves faster than the stairs so you have to keep readjusting your position every 20 seconds.
I feel like with just a tweak here and there these problems could be resolved, but in Russia, like I’ve alluded to before, you just learn to live with them.
But these are the obvious things, that lead you to the most obvious conclusions about Russia. Any casual tourist or summer exchange student could make these hasty observations about the quirkiness of Russia and happily hop on the plane home.
The thing is, my plane home isn’t for another month.
I guess since I came all the way out here and everything, and since there is nothing better to do, I want to scratch beneath the surface.
Two weeks ago my friend Katya from Volgograd showed up at church. Walking around the city with her and Sasha I became painfully aware of my position as an outsider, and I found myself desperately wanting to be a part of things here, at least as much as possible.
So that night I started praying. I needed people who I can speak Russian with and all of my roommates had been English speaking. I want to understand what it means to grow up here, to call this place home. I want to be able to communicate better. But I need people who are interested in being friends with me. At home, I can be resiliant and persevere despite of the level of intrest expressed by the other party in being my friend, but here, I can’t overcome the language barrier AND lack of interest.
Which is how I ended up at church the Wednesday after that. Yana tells me, that she wasn’t planning on going to institute but had a feeling she should go. To make a long story short, with in half an hour of meeting each other, she’d already invited me out with her friends, and asked if I wanted to move in with her and her other roommate Toma for the rest of my time here.
Which is how I ended up living in this turn of the century communal apartment just off of Maly Prospyekt, Vasiliostrovsky Island, St. Petersburg, Russia.
Yana is 19 and if you asked me to describe her in three words, I’d only need one; sassy. Everyone is in need of something she has to offer. Toma is 25 and works, maybe selling souvenirs or maybe trying to get people signed up for boat tours of the canals or maybe both. She complains that I eat too many dry foods and is annoyed that I buy my drinking water. I’ve decided I’m ok that she’s annoyed with those things
We live in one room, and share a bathroom and kitchen with an old man in a room to our right, and a middle aged couple to our left. Small victory today, I talked to Anatolee Nicholiavich, the old man, who I originally thought hated me, and I think he’s warming up to me.
Every now and then I’ll think of my bike or a friend, or about my fall schedule, and I can hardly believe that I have a whole other life waiting for me up on a shelf. It feels like this is all I’ve ever known…almost.
In the mean time I will continue to feast at every street vendor and corner market. Hachapoori. Pirodjki. Kvas. Morse. Sirok. Sharuma. Smitana. Kasha. And borshe of course.