i have two bottles of my favorite ukrainian christmas beer i’ve been saving since the holidays…that’s one beer for each night i have left living in my village — it’s time to savor everything (beer included). it’s hard to believe that things are coming to an end and before i know it i’ll be moved out of my hobbit house. i’ve been kind of overwhelmed with packing even though i’m basically giving all my stuff away. since i’m done with school, the only thing i have to do is pack and fill out some final peace corps papers which gets pretty boring. so i figured i’d procrastinate a little and enjoy my last few days in the village.
since early april i’ve been saying good-bye to fellow volunteers, host family, co-workers, shop owners, school, students, etc…it’s been like ripping a band-aid off ever so slowly. it’s been awful. not that the good-byes are awful, but no one wants to them to drag on and on and on. i’m looking forward to being done with this phase. but i did have one more good-bye to give to the post-office ladies. i didn’t want to leave without letting them know i’d gone home and not just disappeared. peace corps told us of a story in which villagers contacted peace corps asking where the american had gone because they didn’t say good-bye. ha!
so i took a break from semi-productivity and headed out with my camera to the post-office and then the city to print some photos for gifts. i was kind of bummin the past few days because i’ve basically finished everything and now i’m just doing nothing but waiting to leave. it was hard to say good-bye to my students and things felt kind of unfinished in a way — though are any good-byes ever really? but the break i took from packing turned out to be just what i needed.
as i walked to the post-office i went my normal route hoping to capture a few sneaky photos of decorative front yard gates i enjoy passing on a daily basis. my camera was out and ready to go when i heard my name and three of my favorite 5th formers came running towards me. “miss kristen!! miss kristen!!” they shouted with glee as the ran to me full force with open arms and enveloped me with hugs. i felt so loved! i was so glad i captured the moment of them running towards me, smiles on their faces. they linked arms with me and directed me to a bake sale table they’d set-up infront of their house. it was the cutest thing. i chatted a little with their mothers who were supervising and bought a few muffins from the girls. they were all smiles to have seen me one more time. i’ll miss those sweet kids so much, but i think seeing them one last time, leaving me with that memory of them running to greet me, was just what i needed, and just how i want to remember it.
i continued my walk to the post-office with such a smile, a little more closure and peace of mind. at the tiny post office i mailed my last letter home and said good-bye and thanks to the post ladies who were always so kind to me. i bought my favorite ice cream bar one last time (vanilla ice cream with poppy seeds and a white chocolate shell with sesame seeds, yum!) and waited for the bus to head into the city. when i sat down at the bus stop a man sitting there began to talk with me, or really, talk at me. he first thought i was german, but when i told him i was american he had much to say — about our educational system, drugs, crime, flowers, cars…he was a mr. chatty cathy. i think i said maybe a total of twenty words to him but when the bus came he gave me a handful of chocolates he pulled out from his bag and told me to eat them to my health.
once in the city i headed to the photo store for some prints. i’m now on a name-based terms with the (rather attractive) young man that works there. as i was telling him which prints i wanted he looked at me, pulled a mirror out from behind the counter and said, ‘you’ve…you’ve got something on your lips”…sure enough i had some left over ice cream hangin around. can’t take me anywhere!! i’m pretty sure i blushed majorly, but at least, unlike my bus stop friend, he was kind enough to tell me.
i had some time to kill while the rest of my photos were being printed so with my camera i headed to the bazaar. i’ve only taken a few photos of the bazaar but there were more shots i wanted to get. normally, i don’t have the balls to take them, but since i’m leaving, i don’t really care if they think i’m weird. i still had to explain myself most of the time — no, i dont’ work for the newspaper, no i’m not a spy, no i’m not a professional, this is just for my personal hobby. people here are very very suspicious of strange looking people taking photos, but i would be too. i’ve gotten some angry comments while taking photos, but i’ve found if you explain yourself and ask with a smile and a compliment, they’ll oblige. so now you can enjoy some bazaar photos — courtesy of me growing a pair.
since the day was just so nice out (it’s been cloudless and in the upper 70s-mid 80s since…since winter ended basically. it’s lovely.) i decided to walk back to my village from the city. it’s about 2.25 miles or so but i really didn’t have anything else to do (besides things i didn’t want to do). i walked slowly and took in the scenery. on the way i was offered ice cream by some young men. when i replied no thanks they rebutted with “but you’re lips are so red today!”…not sure how that makes an argument for eating ice cream but it make me laugh. oh, how everyone is in such a better mood when it’s not winter!
’twas lovely last saturday in ukraine.