Sunday, December 6, 2009
The Long Goodbye -- Six months of "you will be moving soon," Month 1
While the moonshine brewing in the kitchen ceased, the overnight visits from Lesia did not and she began making increasingly more ridiculous demands of me. One of my favorites was when she wanted me to sleep on the couch, so she could sleep in the bed because her back hurt when she slept on the couch. Um, if your back hurts maybe you could just GO HOME and sleep there.
Irinia kept saying that I should talk to Lesia myself one day when she came in. I try to impress upon Irina that I did not have the language skills to be diplomatic. I finally did say something, though, and it did not go over well. Lesia ran to the superintendent (her boss) and essentially tattle-tailed on me. She said that she came into her apartment and I was very rude and told her that she couldn't stay there anymore and she didn't understand what right I had to tell her what she could and couldn't do in my apartment.
During Irina's discussion with the superintendent about my rudeness, she found out some very interesting information. It turns out that the school only rented "half" of the apartment for me. What, exactly, that meant was never explained. I think it meant "the landlady may do what she pleases with half the apartment at any given time and you must reside in whatever half she is not interested in at that moment."
Shortly thereafter Lesia announced that her son (one of the guys who spent the night a few weeks before) was getting married and would move into my apartment and that I only had one week to move. Fabulous. Not that I didn't want to move, but Ukraine is not America -- you can't just pick up your local housing listing and find an apartment, expecially when you aren't the one paying for it. Things are really complicated and almost no one rent apartments. Part of the problem is that everyone got an apartment under Soviet rule, so, no matter how poor you were, when the Soviet Union dissolved, you owned your space. There are very few homeless in the former Soviet Union, and everyone who does want to move either lives with relatives or buys a place. Young people in their twenties (married, single, and with children) almost always live with their parents for years before embarking on their own, making it even more difficult to find a single, 22 year-old a place to live. Not to mention that the weather in January in Ukraine is not exactly ideal for moving. With at least two feet of accumulated snow on the ground at all times, gray skies, and darkness falling around three in the afternoon, it's a bit like living in a black and white movie.
My students outside of our school on a typical January afternoon