this morning i was awoken at 7:30 am to lena calling (she usually just comes knocking). at first i didn’t know who it was but then i recognized her voice. she’s so good at waking me up on the weekend when i want to sleep in. i was still so sleepy and it was way too early for ukrainian so it took me a while to understand what she was saying to me. she wanted me to bring over a bag so she could give me potatoes and peppers (why this couldn’t have waited till later i’m still not sure). but anyways, i got up, put some shorts on, grabbed my bag and headed out the door.
i found lena sitting with kola under her tree. i walked over they offered me beer (at 7:30am…totally natural), to which i refused and thankfully they didn’t push, and then sat down not knowing what else to do. they talked for a little while, and i played with ira, and soon my empty bad was then filled with delicious produce. lena asked to borrow 15 hrv so i went back to my room to go get it. i had a feeling it was for more beer and i had a feeling i might not ever get it back. but for the amount of food she has given me, it was more than an even exchange.
i went and got my computer when my neighbors headed out to get more beer, as i had suspected, and called jeff from skype on his birthday. as usual it was a terrible connection which was extremely frustrating, so it was a pretty short phone call. i headed back to my room where i got my camera and bike and went off to the farm. my neighbor insisted i go with them today, but knowing that they’d be drinking for a while and i certainly did not want to participate, i insisted that i’d meet her there. so after skyping i rode off to the farm.
when i got there i didn’t see any of my neighbors but a couple men and a little girl. i asked them if they’d seen lena and they said no one was there. not really knowing what to do i said ‘thanks’ and rode back. though on my way back my neighbor’s husband and son came riding up with their little dog trotting behind, so i turned around and went back to the farm. i’m not sure if my neighbor explained who i am to the man sitting outside, but when i rode up a second time and got out my camera he didn’t ask me any questions.
i began talking with the little girl, dasha, who held one of the kitties i took in. i turned around to see the other, more shy one, sitting across the road. probably smart for staying away from 2 year old girls. dasha looooved that little kitty and was not about to let it go. her grandpa showed me around the farm, and the pigs turned out to be his (i always thought they were my neighbors). and then i realized it’s a community farm. i had a feeling it was tough i thought my neighbors owned the entire thing now. during sssr rule, farms from individuals were taken and community farms were built. you can identify most community farms from the painted white brick buildings that remain standing. they’re all over the country.
dasha reminded me so much of what my mom looked like when she was younger. obviously i didn’t know her, but from all the pictures i’ve seen, they looked exactly the same. boyish haircut, and played in hand-me down clothes that didn’t exactly fit. i felt like i was in the book benjamin button for a minute, talking with my mom. it was trippy. her grandpa didn’t say much to me at all, he mainly watched the pigs and told dasha not to do things. at one point he grabbed a stick and motioned that he was going to hit her. with the grandpa infront of me, dasha stood behind me laughing, so i thought it was a joke and awkwardly laughed too. though later when she didn’t have me for a shield he smaked her so hard on the hand with the stick for putting feed in the water. i hated that sound. though dasha didn’t cry. she held her hand, her eyes filled with tears and she looked as surprised as i was. holding the stick ready to strike again, her grandpa said ‘what did that hurt? do you need another one?’ stunned, dasha replied with a long ‘no’. a few minutes passed and she was better and off to doing something mischievous again. now and then she received a few playful raps on the but from her grandpa but she just giggled and continued on.
after that awkward moment, i realized i had enough pictures and shouldn’t impose on them anymore so i headed back home. once i got to the dormitories, lena was sitting outside on a bench with two workers from school. she told me she’s been waiting for me for two hours but i told her i went to the farm and she wasn’t there. she seemed a little upset at first but then handed me a bag of food from kola. his wife made and gave me peroshki with potatoes (and as it turns out chicken too), tomatoes and chocolate candies (one of which lena had eaten and left the wrapper on the ground next to her). it was so thoughtful of them. and though i looove peroshkis i gave mine to chucha. it’s funny how ukrainians don’t consider chicken meat.
someone knocked on my door and i was certain that it was lena, though she wasn’t calling my name like usual. for a second i hid but then realized it was probably something important. i went to my door and it was someone from school presenting me with a package slip from the post office. i thought it had to be coral’s package that i’ve been waiting for so i rode my bike to the post office. if filled out the slip but when she handed me a large envelope from my mom i was certainly surprised! i didn’t know she sent me something. in it was a laptop cooling pad (cause my computer is hot, and not with two ts), a coloring book with crayons and silly bands for ira, reeses mini pb cups (YUM!), two flea collars for chucha and a few other things. it was such a surprise. i was so happy she sent the flea collars, though from the last collar experience with chucha, i kind of wondered how this one would go over. i went outside to put it on, which took a while, but put it on tight enough to where i thinnnnk she can’t get it off (though made sure she can still breath of course). she went crazy for a while obviously hating it. but hopefully she’ll get used to it and hopefully it helps. i read on the package that you need to replace it every 3 months. to which i logically started calculating how many collars that would be for the remainder of my service. still seems like a long time lol.
later i went over to lena’s and she showed me more baby photos and gave me a russian cookbook. she wants me to come over tomorrow and bake with her. some other drunk neighbor came over. i had a hard time understanding him. partly due to his slurred speech and partly due to his missing front teeth. they got the beer glasses out and went outside to drink. noticing they had three glasses and not just two i insisted that i didn’t want to drink. but he poured me one and begged just to have one. so fine. i took it. i drank most of it and when they weren’t looking sneakily poured the rest on the ground. haha. they sat, drank and smoked and i wanted to go home so i made an excuse to leave (which isn’t easy, but thankfully now i can say i have to work on lessons). the man pulled on my arm so hard to get me to stay but i wriggled my way out. lena gave me a hug and the man kissed me 4 times on the neck. god drunk ukrainian men…and i walked home. trying not to think about the saliva on my neck.