And with it everyone’s attitude. Strangers are nicer, the population seems to have tripled & I’m watching a beautiful sunset over the hills now at 8:00 pm. As a temporary citizen of Yampil I’m following suit & am happy to report having many a ‘I like Ukraine’ day as of late. The ankle length parka & snow boots have been relegated to the closet which was especially appreciated when I noticed that the shadow I cast when wearing them closely resembled two people in one coat…one person on the other’s shoulders, walking all tall & wobbly. It made me wonder if I stroll a little too jauntily here in an effort to avoid slipping on the ice. Deep thoughts that I no longer have to ponder thanks to the sweater weather. Just one more thing to be glad about I guess. Granted, this has been a good week w/ yet another perfect care package courtesy of my mom (so spoiled per usual), plenty of time to go on my apparently important long walks, and the promise of a vacation to Lviv with Emily in a few weeks, but whatever the cause I’m happy here & that’s OK with me.
It seems like each day I find some trivial thing that completely reaffirms my choice to be here, which could possibly be the first ever benefit of my tendency to over-analyze. For instance, the trees are in full bloom which has brought me all sorts of delight & led to extensive photo shoots. My absolute favorite is a tree that has the tiniest, most delicate little white flowers that cover every square inch of its branches. It looks straight up fairy tale to me. I love it so much that I decided it will be in my wedding in some capacity (getting ahead of myself much?) & asked Olha what kind of tree it was. Any guesses? It’s a cherry tree. As in cherries, my favorite food in the whole very wide world. As I type this out I’m realizing that the gravity of the ‘coincidence’ probably isn’t quite as powerful to everyone else which may mean that I’m grabbing at straws, but I thought it was pretty cool & served as another small reminder to me that I’m where I’m supposed to be right now. And hey, I’ll take what I can get in that regard.
I think it also helps to have my bar set low & the intensity of emotions set high. While I definitely feel the drawbacks of that occasionally, it does makes otherwise passable events seem extremely significant & encouraging. I was glowing for a solid half hour after meeting my neighbor on the street, having a 2 minute conversation, & realizing after I walked away that it was in Ukrainian, fast, & somewhat normal. Not quite as big of a deal back on Milford Street.
Adding to the general good mood has been the kindness shown by my new friends here. That same neighbor brought me over a delicious homemade cobbler Friday night & returning an empty plate is a don’t here so I made some no-bake oatmeal cookies to reciprocate & gave them to her today. Within 10 minutes she was back at my door with a plate full of cream puffs, only instead of cream they were filled with cherries. So essentially we’re in a food fight where everyone is a winner. Everyone that is except my bathing suit which will never be able to see the light of day again at this rate.
Olha & her family have also made a huge impact in helping me feel welcome. As a teacher at the school I work at she really is not at all obligated to spend time with me outside of class but has gone out of her way to include me & as a result I had a weekend filled with sight-seeing, game-playing, & general family normalcy. I tutor Dasha, a 9th grader, & was surprised to see her at my door Saturday afternoon asking me over for fish soup cooked over the fire (really, very delicious). I was all too eager to accept the invite & spent the rest of the day visiting with their family- both grandparents who are about 70 but look & act 50, the dad Vitya who’s hysterical and a bit reminiscent of Chris Farley, Olha, Dasha, Kate the 5 year old who named a doll after me, & Ivan the 2 year old who’s all boy & tells his mom to ‘stop speaking nonsense’ when she teaches him English. We walked around town after lunch & I was lucky enough to have Kate holding one of my hands & the other filled with a bouquet of tulips that they cut from their garden for me. Then today I awoke to a phone call from Dasha inviting me to see a nearby city & got to go on a roadtrip through the hills as well as a shopping excursion. Kate & I played the ‘I Spy’ game for hours at a time because while I don’t have much to offer language-wise I seem to have mastered colors & sure am capable of pointing. And finally we rounded the day off by playing the Ukrainian equivalents of tag, red light green light, & marco polo at a park near the river. Vitya happens to work at the cultural center of Yampil so as a perfect end to the weekend of fun he made a few calls & I am officially signed up to play sand volleyball in the summer &…get this…join a knitting circle with the women who meet 3 times a week to embroider. Boredom be gone.
And because I can’t seem to write a post without including some spider-drama, the latest conundrum involves the one currently residing in the corner beneath my kitchen sink. He generally doesn’t move around a lot which is actually preferable in my book as I don’t really relish killing living creatures, I just am real afraid of spiders in motion. To ensure that he stays stationary I’ve contemplated throwing food his way &/or closing off the area with a box. It didn’t sound like a bad idea until I realized that would essentially mean that I had a pet spider which is just absolutely too much too soon. I think I may have to commission a neighbor for a rescue mission. As you can probably discern from the last paragraph, that’s all the exciting news happening here. I hope spring is in full bloom wherever you are as well 🙂