For those who don't know, my parents came to visit me last week.
It was an interesting experience.
It was really fun to get to take a bit of a break and see things I've gotten used to through new eyes. It was also really nice to pretend that I wasn't in Russia and be a tourist for a while. I mean, obviously I'm still in Russia, but while they were here, I could kind of let go of the constant underlying stress that goes along with living here.
I even got to stay at the hotel for a few nights, sleeping on the most comfortable rollaway bed I've ever experienced.(And trust me, I've experienced quite a few rollaway beds in my time.) But unfortunately, like all good things, it came to an end.
Then I had culture shock.
I know, right? It's really strange to think about. When my parents came it was strange because they were doing things that would've been fine in American culture, but were out of context in Russia. When they left it was like a slap in the face. *SMACK!* HEY! YOU LIVE IN RUSSIA DUMMY!
The hardest thing was going back to my room. Because now matter how you look at it, I'm living in someone else's house. What's even more difficult is that my landlady has had one of her daughters and two grandchildren staying there for the past week or so. This kind of changes the atmosphere of the apartment and strange people always cause me stress.
So I'm at this point where I'm like "How am I going to be able to go back to living here for the next four months?" I don't *want* to live here for the next four months. I was really cranky about it the last two days too. *Grumblegrumble*yeahit'sherapartmentbutIwanteveryonetojustgoawayandleavemealone.
Yesterday I'm hanging up laundry in the hall and the little boy is playing with the silverware and his mom is alternately cooking dinner and screaming at him. You think I'm exaggerating. It's like the woman has two volumes. Screaming and super quiet. I mean, I can understand her being frustrated with the kid, but first he's just little and second your screaming is really unnecessary.
I had an appointment this morning and when I came back my landlady and the guests were up. The little grandson stared at me as I came in and took off my jacket. My landlady reassured him and was like "Say hello to Auntie", but it was clear he was rather terrified of me. In Russia, any unknown man or woman are automatically called "Aunt" or "Uncle" by children. Older men and women are "Grandmother" and "Grandfather." I really enjoy getting to be an aunt of sorts.
In preparation to go to English group I pulled down half my laundry and put it away and was coming back for the second half when the little boy kicked a ball at me. I spent the next few minutes kicking it around with him while he just giggled and giggled. Apparently he got over his terror. (I'm also beginning to think God gave me a weird spiritual gift for children which is funny 'cause I'm not a huge kid person) So there we are playing a bit until his toddler attention span kicks off and away he goes.
I finished getting ready and I leave my room to get my jacket and shoes on. While I'm standing there my new little friend shows up again, babbling incomprehensibly. The next thing I know, he pulls his jacket off the shelf and holds it up for me to help him into it. Little guy wanted to go with him. I explained that he needed to stay home and he disappeared into my landlady's room. I finished getting my stuff and just as I was closing the door behind me I hear a little voice go "AUNTIE!"
Today was a reminder. Even though I've been frustrated with the people in the apartment and living there, as I was pulling my laundry off the line there was something very comforting about my landlady's daughter greeting me as she came out of the bathroom, the sound of cartoons from the TV and people just getting ready for the day. There was joy in just taking a few minutes to play ball with a little boy. I don't know the details of his family or home, know he's probably too young to even remember me when I leave, but I do know that maybe, in a tiny way today I made an impression on his life. A young woman who took a moment to play with him.