Friday, October 12, 2007

A Russian Birthday

Author's Note: I had a few people comment on the way I wrote my last post and so I thought I would write part of this one in the same vein.

The alarm went of and like every other morning she counted the beeps the watch made. She got a different number every day. Today it was 45. When the watch had finished doing its thing she rolled over and went back to sleep for another ten minutes. Just like every other morning.

When she opened her eyes what seemed like only a few minutes later, she knew there was something wrong. There was too much light coming in the window. She rolled over, and looked at her clock. 7:20 the digital numbers taunted. She hissed a soft Chort! She was supposed to catch a bus in ten minutes. Just as she put her feet on the floor her host mom's voice cut through the stillness of the apartment.


"Yeah, I know," She replied. She grabbed her contacts and dashed toward the bathroom. Knowing all the while that she had known she was going to over sleep one day, but did it have to be today? Actually...She decided while frantically scrubbing her teeth, she would've liked to sleep in and not go to school. It was her birthday after all.

Her mission in the bathroom completed, she sprinted back to her room and threw on her school clothes, for once not mentally complaining about the fact she had to wear something akin to a uniform. It made deciding what to wear a whole lot easier.

Back home she would've just skipped breakfast but she knew her Russian mother wouldn't hear of it, so she reluctantly headed towards the kitchen and pour her frosted flakes equivalent into a bowl. She was working on getting her morning started with the most important meal and she wasn't really paying attention to what was on the TV. Just the news, like usual. "THE STATE OF OHIO..." She paused with the spoon halfway to her mouth, the cereal dripping back into the bowl. Why would they anounce something about her state here? She watched the news report without understanding a word, and that frustrated her. Her host mom, seeing her confusion explained that there had been a school shooting. Well, that was interesting. She would have to e-mail her parents about it later.

Finishing her cereal she ran for the bus, though in all honesty as soon as she got out the door she slowed down some. It honestly didn't matter to her whether she was late or not. She tried not to make a habit out of it, but if she was late, the school wouldn't care. It was another average morning on the bus. She disliked the bus because it was usually crowded and the people here were so pushy. But she dealt with it because she didn't want to have to get up for school any earlier than neccesary.

She reached the school with two minutes to spare, inside she changed into her dress shoes and headed to the second floor where her first class was located. The classroom reminded her of one of those disappearance stories. There were bags, and books, but not a single student. That was very unusual. But being the naive person she is, she figured they'd all show up eventually so she started to unpack her stuff.

She had only begun when two of her classmates showed up. The literature teacher appeared and muttered something about another classroom and a birthday, so the classmates took her by the hand and dragged her through the halls.

They arrived at the english room, went inside and there the whole class waited to wish her happy birthday and present her with a few gifts. She was extremely touched and felt herself tearing up. So what if her English teacher had arranged it, it was still a very cool thing.

The rest of her day went smoothly and her spirits were soaring high as she headed home. She and her host mom had arranged for a party to celebrate and she was looking forward to it more than she'd like to admit. She bound up the steps, the stairwell was back to smelling like cigarettes, and opened the door. She removed her coat and scarf and stopped upon entering her room, there waiting for her was a huge bouquet of white lilies and a card from her host mom. She couldn't stop grinning.

The guests began to arrive at 5:30. In the span of an hour she had amassed enough stuff to fill a suitcase. She hadn't expected that people who she'd only known a month and a half to be so kind to her. Each gift was special and unique and she appreciated the thought that went into each one, and knew that it would find a place with her when she went back to America. She loved all her gifts, but her pride and joy was from the Rotary Club.

At dinner the Club president made a speech. They had known that she wanted to learn to play the national instrument. So they helped her out and got her a khomus. A simple piece of metal that could speak worlds. She adored it.

Toasts were made some she understood and some she didn't, all of them wishing her life, luck, and happiness. Somehow she knew they meant every word of it too. There was food. So much good food, though she was distracted and only ate a little. People kept coming and going, and she had to greet them, or thank them yet again, she was getting tired, but she was enjoying every minute of it.

A game of twister later, she was sitting with a group of friends trying to figure out how many USAs would fit into Russia. It reminded her of an old SCTV sketch and that made her smile. The phone rang, but she paid no mind to it. Probably one of her host mom's friends. Yet a few moments later her host mom entered the room and held the phone out to her. "Who is it?" She asked.

"Papa" came the reply. She took the phone hesitantly because surely it was some random Russian on the other end of the phone. Surely it wasn't her father calling. The voice on the other end of the phone confirmed that it was. She spoke with them for a half an hour, her flesh and blood parents, and felt slightly bad that she did most of the talking, and honestly couldn't remember what she even talked about, and she enjoyed talking with them, she really did. But when she got off the phone and joined the party at the table once more she had a sudden shock. She realized that though she loved her real parents and missed them, they were part of a different life, and she loved hearing their voices and telling them about what she was doing, and hearing about home, but she realized as she sat at that table, listening to the Russian fly past her that she felt like she belonged here. And that feeling was bittersweet.

Not to kill the mood, but as you can tell my birthday was awesome. Better than I expected, though I wasn't expecting too much so as not to be disappointed. For those of you who do not know what a khomus is, look it up on wikipedia and I'll play it for you when I get home. The instrument is kind of a big deal here, it seems like almost everyone learns to play at least a little on one, and you can do some cool stuff with it. I was really excited that the Rotary Club was kind enough to get one for me. I just wanted to share a few interesting thoguhts and observations with you in first person.

First of all, I'm proud of my language skills. No, they're not "madd skillz" yet, but I'm working on it. Yesterday I was walking from school with two friends, and one asked me about the weather in my state right now, so I was explaining about how it's cooler and rainy, and then I decided to explain that it was beautiful because the trees were all colors, so I go "But It's so pretty because the..." I suddenly realize I don't know the word for "tree" just the word for "Forest" so I'm like "Because the...forest only gold." My friend figured out what I meant and told me the word for tree. Which I promptly forgot again. I don't know why it takes me so long to remember some words and not long at all to remember others. I do best though when I can hear the word, see what it looks like, and then write it down. Usually I'll remember it then. Sometimes I have to reapeat it a lot in my head.

In liturature class I sit next to a guy, and infront of two more guys. This makes literature class a very interesting experience. Especially today when they were practicing their English. I'm sitting there, trying to pay attention in Literature, but slowly drifting off into a day dream when all of a sudden the guy next to me whispers to the guys behind me "I want to F*** animals" Naturally this makes me suddenly sit up and give them a funny look before busting up laughing. I think they forgot that I can understand English the looks on their faces was priceless.

The main reason I recounted this story for you is because of this. When school let out, I was walking with my friend Nina and I was able to recount this story to her. In Russian (In a cleaned up version.) I was so proud of myself. You have no idea.

Let me see, what other news can I tell you...Oh! I know! So I had asked Raisa about my second host family. Not because I am unhappy here, but because I was just curious. She told me that she didn't know and to ask the Rotary club. So I asked the Rotary Club president and she didn't know either. So at my party we had a little private chat and this is what I understood.

I might not have another family. I might just stay here. In fact that's what will probably happen and here's why. The rotary club here is small. There aren't a ton of people in it. There is one family that has kids, but they have a baby who's like three months old so they can't take me. Basically what this means is that since there is a shortage of good families, I'll probably just stay here with Raisa. I was actually more pleased than I thought I would be to hear this. Raisa is awesome, and the apartment is nice, and I've got a routine established. Besides, I like the fact that I can kind of do my thing. This is what I told the president. If they find another family. Fine, and if not, that's okay with me too. So as far as I know this is going to be my place of residence during the rest of my stay here. And while at first I wanted host brothers or sisters, I'm now okay with the fact that my two host sisters are far away. Mostly because my social life has picked up, and I actually have friends. Whoo hoo! Go friends!

The only other news I can think of at the moment is that the district governor is coming here from Alaska. I think on November first. I think I'm supposed to play the Khomus for him when he comes. hee hee hee.

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