Monday, August 23, 2010

Triumphant return (or something like it)

AND--we're back. We've been back for about a week now, actually. (Claire's in South Korea with her parents, and Ariel's in Massachusetts with her parents, and I'm in Washington, on a boat.) It's really weird to be back, kind of disorienting, and it doesn't help that there's this freak cold-spell sort of hovering over the Olympic Peninsula right now. I packed shorts and tank-tops for Russia, and that's all the clothing I have with me, so I've just been wandering around Port Angeles in sandals and short-sleeves, looking like an idiot in the balmy lower-60-degree weather. It's also odd to get free water in restaurants, with ice in it. Ice! And just today, I accidentally stepped into the middle of the road in front of an oncoming car, and the driver stopped, instead of running me over. Crazy.

The food's a lot better, too, but this isn't going to be a sigh of relief about how I'm (we're) back to civilization and away from giant tubs of caviar.


Or random cats sleeping on...

On cars?

Because believe it or not (I'm sure many people would think not), I actually kinda deep-down-in-the-dusty-recesses-of-my-heart miss Russia. What?! Yes. Not in the I-want-to-go-back-right-now kind of way. And maybe not even in the I-want-to-go-back-EVER kind of way. But still. If you were to ask me about my summer in Russia, I would say it was a summer of eating popsicles, with the frighteningly red (or cactus green) flavor melting and dripping stickily down my fingers. It was a summer sitting on dirty park benches in beautiful gardens, in late-evening sunlight that is so yellow and warm that it's almost alive as it sets behind the horizon. And then when the mosquitoes came (and trust me, they always did), we walked home, laughing and covered in the dust of the city.

And it's the oddest thing that I should miss Russia when some days I would walk down the street, squinting at the blazing hot sun, looking at the little kids pooling their money, trying to decide if they have enough to buy candy bars (looks the same in every country), and suddenly the same kids ran past chattering at such high speeds that I had NO IDEA what was going on, and everything was ALL WRONG, and why? WHY was I there? At times like those, I couldn't decide whether to laugh or cry, because yeah, culture shock sucks, but the summer sky in Saint Petersburg is almost the same shade of blue as the summer sky that I've been staring into for the past 18 years, although on the other side of the world. Almost. But not quite.

Some days--some days I really thought the summer would never end. But then, we did learn the word for "shit happens" in Russian, and really, you need that over there, for when you get lost (often), fall down a manhole (painful), or get food poisoning (unfortunate). Because it's the summer, and what happens during the summer is as intangible as the moment when dusk begins and ends. You can't bring it back with you into the red and gold reality of the melts, then evaporates, like the popsicles we sucked on all summer. It leaves a sticky film that vaguely reminds you of...something. And if you think a minute, maybe you'll remember. But then, you don't really want to remember, do you? At least, not fully or exactly. That's the beauty of the summer: you pick your flavor, savor it in the heat with the bugs buzzing around you, and then you walk away into the night, satisfied and exhausted, ready for the next day...

...or next term, as it were. See all you Dartmouth kids in 4 weeks! To everyone who was in Russia with me, thanks for the amazing summer.


The Dartmouth girls

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