I’m in panic mode. It’s already March, and I still have so much to experience! Part of me wants to stay in Saint Petersburg through the end of summer. My host babushka, Marina, and her husband keep pressuring me to stay. She takes every opportunity with me to extensively describe the summer holidays, parades, and the famous “white nights”. Marina makes me feel at home. Sure we quarrel sometimes, but only because she cares about me so much that she feels it’s her responsibility to nag about my lack of wearing a scarf or my refusal to eat two dinners. I know I’m in trouble when she gives me the “up-down.” That judgmental look in her eye penetrates me to the soul, and I can always feel shivers running down my back. I feel like I need to prep for combat every time I leave the apartment. However, I’ve learned to pick my battles. If she feels like I should wear a sweater, I’ll go grab one. But if she feels like my entire outfit is not fit for the infamous Russian weather, I have to remind her that I’m from Wisconsin, and I’m an adult who knows how to successfully dress myself. And I can’t leave without her trying to shove food into my backpack. She is an aggressive lover, and I have learned to love her for it.
Anyways, the past couple weeks have been a whirlwind of new experiences. I feel compelled to regurgitate at least a few of them to you. I’ve visited a modern art museum(Erarta); relaxed in the famed Russian banya; toured the apartment/museum of Anna Ahkmatova; ice skated all night until the metro opened; and explored the Hermitage multiple times.
However, my favorite experiences in Russian happen by accident. Last week I stumbled upon a partially destroyed, brick church that looked like it had been bombed during the blockade. I meandered inside and happened upon a picture of the church from many years ago. It had once been a magnificent structure with beautiful spiraling peaks. The rich history of this city literally is hidden everywhere. Every brick in this city has some story to tell. This may all sound cliché, but it is so very true. Architecture and art are important aspects of this city, and I’m having a wonderful time uncovering all the hidden nooks and crannies.
Alright, before I go I just have to rave about two new relationships that I’ve kindled over the past couple weeks. The first relationship is with a five year old girl – my babushka’s granddaughter, Sophia. The first time I met her, her smile filled up the entire room. We played “princesses” together, and I was even invited to her birthday party in August. Unfortunately, I had to decline due to my return to America in May. However, she has declared me to be one of her new best friends, and I received no less than 12 hugs and kisses before she said goodbye to me after our first meeting.
My second relationship is with my Russian tutor, Kristina. She is only obligated to spend two hours with me every week; however, we spent at least six hours with each other on Saturday. When I told her she is only paid for two hours, she said it didn’t matter to her, because she loves spending time with me. Plus, Kristina possesses a great passion for languages and linguistics. I’ve never met anyone so excited to discuss grammar. And, honestly, she is my Russian soul mate. Her style, her mannerisms, and her view on the world match my own so perfectly. It amazes me that someone on the opposite side of the world can be so similar to me. Well, I guess everything here continues to amaze me. What a fabulous world we live in.