A couple of days ago I received two unexpected packages in the mail. The packages were from one of my Great-Aunts and they contained photos and letters that I had sent to my great-grandmother during my time in Russia. Some of the photos I hadn't seen in years.There were also a bunch of family photos of my Mom as a little girl, which I'd never seen before. It was a pretty awesome surprise. Especially since I'm getting older and I'm afraid of forgetting a lot of my experiences of my time in Russia. This photo of my husband (then fiancé) eating a cookie in a hotel room in the city of Suzdal sparked a lot of memories.
My husband showed this photo to our son and said, "Look at how gorgeous I was!". I reminded him, "Um, gorgeous is usually used to describe women." He asked, "What's the correct term for men?" I told him handsome. So then he said to our son, "Look at how handsome I was!". So yeah, no self-esteem issues for this guy. It amuses me how he still gets certain English words wrong. I can't pass judgment since I've got my own mental blocks with some Russian words. I wrote a post a few months ago about how I can't remember the difference between the Russian words for "lid' and "rat". Which makes for interesting conversations.
Oh lord, that reminds me of this incident from years ago. We were introduced to some people from the city of Perm, Russia. In Russian you say "iz" for "from". When I tried to ask, "Are you from Perm?" (Vi iz Permi?), I used the wrong ending (iz Perma?) which means "from sperm" instead of "from Perm" . I asked complete strangers, "Are you from sperm?". I remember my husband jabbed me in the side and tried to shut me up but I didn't know what I'd done wrong. This is only one example of many in which I've embarrassed myself in Russian. One time I confused the words for "tray" and "diarrhea" (podnos versus ponos) when I tried to tell a room full of people that I bought a decorative tray while out shopping. I always know when I've said something wrong because the look on peoples' faces will suddenly change from normal to "WTF?" in a millisecond.
I had forgotten about the photo below taken at a concert in Red Square. I think it was the "Three Tenors" performing but for some reason I don't think that Pavorotti was there: he was the one Tenor I really wanted to see.
In an earlier post I mentioned how my husband bought me flowers ALL.THE.TIME when we were dating. I became quite spoiled and after a while it didn't even seem special to me any more. Isn't that horrible? In fact, I remember when we met for this concert and I saw he had flowers for me I was like, "Goddammit, now I have to hold these flowers for the rest of the evening." I didn't say that out loud though. By the way, I know I deserve to be slapped for being so ungrateful.
Do you want to see where I lived the first two summers I spent in Russia? This was the apartment building of my friend Natasha and her mother (my "Russian Mom"):
The very first time we pulled up in front of the building when I arrived in Moscow I thought, "Oh my God, do they live in the ghetto?" I didn't yet know that this was a typical building and that their apartment was actually MUCH nicer than many others. At least it wasn't a communal apartment. The tiny figure in front of the building is my father, who visited me for a week in 1992. As he endured the austerity of living like a typical Russian during his visit, one time he asked me, "Why oh why didn't you continue your studies in French? I could have been relaxing on the French Riviera right now". I sometimes thought the same thing too. What can I say? I just fell in love with Russia and its people and one particular Russian man. I've never mentioned before that my first trip to Russia was during the failed coup attempt of August 1991. You know, that time when Russian tanks rolled into the city and everyone feared fighting and bloodshed. Most people would have lived through that experience and been like, "There is no way in HELL that I am ever coming back here again." And yet I did. Over and over. I'll have to write about my memories of the coup in a future post. It was a strange experience. One local news station back home was able to get through to me on a phone call (which was a minor miracle) and interviewed me live on air. I got interviewed again once I was back home and and a local magazine wrote an article about me, which reminds me that I need to try to find that magazine to show my son someday. So yeah, I've had my fifteen minutes of fame.
Lest you doubt me, lay your eyes on this:
These tanks were hauling ass I might add. I remember standing in this spot and thinking, "Something very bad is happening." I know-- quite a profound observation on my part. Anyway, this post is long enough. The rest of the story will have to wait for another day.
I'm the worst kind of asshole-- I think I'm funny.
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