Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Moving Day Surprise!
On July 23rd, 2003, I finally moved. It was six months in the making, but I finally got out of Luba's apartment. Irina, my coordinator, arranged for a car to come and drive my things and I the five blocks or so to my new place. Irina, well meaning but not always thinking, hired a man with the smallest Lada I'd ever seen, with an entire trunk full of God knows what, to cart what amounted to most of my worldly possessions. About half of it fit, forcing me to call a taxi to take the rest of it and to reevaluate my American consumerism and need for things.
When I got to the new building I made about six trips up to the third floor apartment with my things as Irina and my new landlady, Myroslava, were having tea. As I came in with the last of it all, Irina said, "Oh, do you need help with that?" Um, yeah, maybe six trips ago, but now I think I'm all set, thanks. Because I was leaving to work at a friend's summer camp in another city, and then meeting up with my dad and my brother in Bratislava, I actually was missing my official moving day of July 1st. Myroslava offered to let me move my stuff in and pile it in a corner so I could get out of Luba's place ASAP. She also gave me a copy of the keys so I could just let myself in when I returned on July 7th, after she'd moved all the way to Donnetsk on the other side of the country. All went as planned on moving day. I got my stuff situated under a sheet, got my keys, and hopped on a bus to catch the overnight train to my friend's city.
A few weeks later, after taking two overnight trains and a bus, I arrived at my long awaited apartment. I let myself in the door and things looked a little odd -- there were dishes in the sink, and clothes laid out on the bed. I called Irina to figure out what was going on. She didn't know. I called Oleg, the king of regional managers, and he hadn't heard anything either. All three of us tried to get to the bottom of the situation. Eventually it came to pass that Myroslava couldn't get a train ticket to Donnetsk so she was staying until July 22nd.
Fan-freakin'-tastic. Another landlady who doesn't quite understand what it means to rent out an apartment to a tenant. Peace Corps had already paid my rent for the summer to ensure my domestic tranquility, so they were none too pleased with the situation either and offered to give me a new site immediately. While $60/month sounds like nothing now that I pay twenty times that in Brooklyn, teachers in Ukraine make roughly that in a month, so it was actually quite pricey. Negotiations ensued, and Myroslava said that she would stay with her daughter (one of my seventh form students, mind you) in the bedroom, and I could stay in the living room. It would be like I had my own apartment, she assured me.
I couldn't really process the implications of the situation at that exact moment. I'd been traveling for 36 hours, sleeping on trains and smashed into buses where no one would open any windows for fear of the "draft," despite it being mid-July, and mostly I needed a shower and to do some laundry. This new apartment, complete with landlady and pre-teen, also came with an electric hot-water heater. It was heavenly.
I called one of my very close friends, "sticks and twigs" who was also the owner of my cat, and decided to head to her place for a few days to decompress and get used to the idea of spending some quality time with Myroslava and little Anya. I loved Khotyn, my town. It was cute, had a 1,000 year old fortress that was an immense source of pride for the community. I was settled in my school, and I really just didn't want to start over . . . and honestly, I couldn't stomach the idea of giving up after suffering through all the trials and tribulations with Luba. I like to think that my stubborn grittiness to tough things out is one of my strengths, but sometimes I definitely don't know when to let go, and when to recognize that something that isn't successful isn't exactly a failure either. This may or may not have been one of those times. Anyway, off I went to a friend's village, hoping to return in a few days when I'd gotten everything figured out.
Reasons to stay in Khotyn:
The fortress is awesome, no matter the weather.
There are many forms of transportation available.
I would miss my favorite lady at the bazaarchyk.
My students are the best . . . and clearly my school has a lot of resources.
Most of all, I love teaching them and would miss them if I had to leave.