So i’ve moved in with Katya, an acquaintance of Olga’s. Katya is extremely nice and VERY Russian. She keeps insisting that she will give me more room in her apartment, clear more spaces for me, etc. I keep insisting that it’s not necessary, I don’t need space in every single one of her rooms, just the living room will suffice. She then gave me a tour of her entire apartment, which is no bigger than perhaps my basement living room. Each cupboard and drawer she opened, explaining its contents to me, and tell me how to use things. She even made me a key of my own. [I wasn’t ready for that kind of commitment yet.] Katya explained I could put things where I wanted to, organize my things, and so on. Yet she has already rearranged a few of my things to places she wants them to go. I am living in her living room. The two chairs pull out into “beds”. I tried to sleep on one last night; needless to say I moved to the couch in ten minutes. So I’m currently sleeping on the couch, which may pull out into a bed? She gave me this big towel, which she intended me to use as a sheet of some sort. I then asked her if she had any sort of blanket. She looked at me like I was crazy.. ‘but you’ll be so hot tonight!’ ‘No no, I won’t.’ I insisted, ‘I know it’s weird, but please!’ How was I supposed to explain to her that I hate sleeping with a sheet because it clings to me, and i like snug blankets even in summer, and I hate when my body is exposed when sleeping, and really i’m just scared of monsters that will grab my feet, and a sheet doesn’t protect me from monsters. She reluctantly got me her warmest (logic?!) blanket. The next morning she suggested: “why don’t you keep your door open at night; a nice breeze comes through!” well Katya, A) I don’t really have a door, I am living in a living room; B) privacy. privacy. privacy. I am now remembering how Russians lack the American understanding of privacy.
As she was explaining something else to me, perhaps how many different kids of tea she has and how to make tea, including boiling the water I, without any other intention than cleaning my hands, accidently grabbed the dish soap. She starred at me for a few seconds then interjected – “no don’t use that; that could be dangerous for your heath (HUH?!??!)! Use this bar of soap instead; that’ssss hand soap.” Well if it’s “dangerous” then why in the hell are we using it to wash the dishes, off which we eat?
The worst part about all of this, is that I have no intention of staying here very long. I told her that in the beginning; I said I would stay for a few nights but that I wanted to live alone. I think she only hears what she wants to hear. However, I may try to stay here for a few months. She will then get the company she needs (it’s likely she’ll be sick of me by then as well), and i’ll get Russian practice and LOTS of free food. But, Lena is already helping me look for apartments. I’ll just take my time, I guess and see how it all plays out. I really don’t want to offend Katya, and to be honest, I sort of feel bad leaving her by herself.
After moving in with Katya and trying to have various conversations, I re-realized a horrible epiphany I had first in Petersburg that is now creeping upon me again here in Astrakhan. One of the hardest things about studying a language is keeping one’s personality. Studying Russian for me is one part language, one part culture, and one part composition of this “new me”. It is so hard for me to insert sarcasm, crack any sort of joke, or express my ideas and thoughts. My lack of ability to do these things hurt a few of my relationships in Piter and is already very frustrating for me in my thus far 64 hour stay with Katya. I often resort to silence, which as most of you know, is not like me at all. I feel so boring. How I long to comment on things Katya says (if she gives two seconds of breath to do so; damn girl, stop talking for a bit!). Over dinner other night she proceeded to tell me about her love for philosophy, dream analysis, and general psychology. How I wanted to discuss many of these things with her; instead, all I could blurt out was,
“oh yes, I really like this as well! I don’t know much about philosophy, but my friend really loves Kirkegard”.
That was it. C’MON RIKKI. I have suddenly turned into this shy girl. eww. Furthermore, I want to do little things; simply to say thank you, give to the “household” a bit, maybe buy flowers. But I feel like I can’t do anything. First I don’t want to offend her; secondly, every time I do anything on my own in the apartment, she asks me what I’m looking for or tries to do something for me.
On a perhaps lighter note; Katya took me on a 3 hour walking tour the other day. It was nice, and yet tortorus, as she pointed out every flowershop, tobacco shop, grocery store, explaining exactly what products I could buy there, as well as every single old house, saying, “people live there. real people. people, real people live there.” Oh man, Katya. Anyways, for the good part: PICTURES. and I’d have to admit, I’m quite proud of them as well