Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Diary entry: Late summer

Things are actually going along as well as they could, I guess. Tatyana always tells me that I should not act as though I am happy or something bad will happen, and I suppose she has a point in this. But things are Ok right now, at least as far as how I feel day to day. The weather has been really great, and my schedule has put me on the beach almost every day for the warm afternoons. I am as broke as I have even been in my live, but I have hope and optimism that all will be well. I suppose we all have to have this.

I suppose the biggest even of the last while was that Victor, Tatyana’s father got his arm broken by some genuine asshole in a street fight. Victor was trying to throw out some garden trash, and the pile of branches he had in his arms touched in some way a guy car. There was a little kid in the car with him, and the guy went off, hitting and kicking the 80 year old man, snapping his right wrist and leaving him on the ground for fifteen minutes. All Victor could get was two numbers off of the guy’s license plate and of course, no one helped for fear of being involved. The Belarusian Policlinic doctors of course used no anesthesia when resetting the appendage, and woke him up with smelling salts after he passed out during the actual pulling.

Irene, our Babushka has been even more depressed of late. The summer has been one of poor health for everyone, and this last hit has her quite down. This is the beginning of the fall and the prices for vegetables are beginning to drop and so now is the time to buy in bulk for canning (banking) for winter. It has been the family habit for time untold in this house that Irene and victor do this activity together, but the broken wing has victor both out of the garden and unable to turn the pressing machine that fits the caps on the three liter bank jars. I was told by the Egor that the price of cucumbers was down to 100 rubles a kilo (about a nickel), and thought it might be time to buy in bulk for pickling. Babushka just walked a way in a fog saying that she didn’t care any more. I think the job will be taken up by Tatyana and myself on either this or her next day off depending on whether or not she goes to the policlinic dentist to have a filling replaced. That day will be a long one because as we all know, the polyclinic does not believe in anesthesia.

Egor is doing great. The running program that I started for him has elevated his health and with it his attention span. He ran what was probably the most exciting 400 he has ever run a few mornings ago. We lucked into picture perfect conditions for him: His last lap of the day, good weather and two rabbits, other runner who were using the track, to run off of. I timed the rabbits just right and started him off after them and the pace and the excitement had him on pace for his fastest run ever. Rounding the final turn I saw that he had it all the way, but when he saw that his rabbits had crossed the line ahead of him, he decided to break the cardinal rule of running through the finish line and slowed to a stop on the line, blowing a possible record by 15/100 of a second.

His English studies took a huge leap a few days ago when his brain finally decided that it could in fact read English words. He is trying to handle nursery rhyme type poetry at the moment, though purely for enunciation as he is not especially good at translating. I myself am reading his Russian books as training tools, Doctor Abolite, a Doctor Doolittle rip-off is my favorite. He is also gaining on swimming and our daily trips to the beach had annulled his aqua phobia to the point that he actually allowed me to launch him into the air a few times. This was something of a shock to him, both the thrill of the long toss and that he liked it. But on our last and most athletic attempt he discovered after a remarkably painful landing the joys of the belly flop and of course, that avenue was promptly closed off.

But as I say, I am feeling Ok, and I do think it is the summer spent with Egor that is at the root of this. I absolutely admit that I didn’t much like him at the start. I thought he was a remarkably spoiled kid and was so disrespectful to the people who loved him as to make me rather sick. But in our time together, he has shown me some heart, and now I have reshaped my thinking to believe that it was really only the situation that brought out the worst in him. That combination of separation from his dad and my Polish situation’s tearing at his mom probably brought enough tension into his life to turn his cranks a little. I do not claim to be any real answer, but it is good to here and see him becoming enamored of the attention gained by doing good things as opposed to simply demanding it like some miniature Stalin.

The warm weather also brought out feelings of love and Tatyana and I tried to play matchmaker with devastating results. We tried to fix up one of my good friends, a ships captain named Rudi who lives in the Netherlands with one of Tatyana’s friends from university, Alona. We approached both of them with the idea that a little e-tet-a-tet would be mutually beneficial. Alona was into the idea at first, with the soul reservation that she had no English at all. She told me that she spoke some French though, at least what she could remember from school, and so I wrote to Rudi and asked him if he Parlez en Francais. Il’s dit a moi: OUI! And an e-mail address was created. Weeks past before we learned that Alona had decided the enterprise was a little scary, and never sent the letter. I felt quite the fool for playing with my friend. We saw Alone on the street last night and she invited us to dinner at her house. She was telling me all about how nice her house was, how there was a garden and that because she lived on the river, we could do some fishing there. I smiled and told her I didn’t believe a word of it, an Americanism that really simply meant, tell me more. But Tatyana decided to tell Alone that in fact I hadn’t understood a word of what she said. It wasn’t until I translated what had been said back to her that she realized the purpose of the remark: I really simply didn’t believe her anymore. C’est la vie!

And also concerning love, the evasion of it and/or missed opertunities, the fabled Olga returned to Pinsk, brand new four month old Baby of her own in tow to visit her mom. I heard something about this from Tatyana who told me that she had seen her name on a card at the visa office six weeks ago. Olga spotted me first at the river where I was amusing the local fish. She is still pretty, though she now speaks with a German accent. We have had only a few chances to speak and this is mostly because she is a little nervous about me and a lot nervous about the baby. And about her, all I can say is that closure is indeed a good thing. I think that I might be seen as still being smitten by her, but I don’t think that this is the case. It was good to see her again, and to speak a bit, but the meeting did no more for me than to remind me why we didn’t get together so many years ago (regardless of attraction) and why I have a situation now that is worth keeping. In Belarus they say that the truth will poke you in the eye. I always wear my glasses.

I myself have got my book coming along pretty well. I am well passed the 100,000 word mark and if the project has turned into something of a bureaucratic exercise, I am not really unhappy about that. I have not had a computer outside of the internet where this letter is coming from since I started, and so because it is a public use place, I am limited in my time. But I like the feel of the book, and I think that it will be Ok. I hope so. I guess I am praying so.

At any rate, I have got an investor for the bike shop here, and though it is not really enough to make the thing go, it is enough to make a foundation and it is my hope to fill in financial gaps before or around the first of the year. I want to try and be here some more. I find that I like it. Life could be better, but to me, it feels like life or at least a lot more like it than what I had been force fed last year. And I find myself buying into the kid a little these days. He past me in our chess challenge a few weeks ago for the first time, and he is now winning 66-65 and 4, but I am not ready to quit just yet. Not unless I have to. I guess I’ll just take it as it comes.

Hope all of your summers have been good to you.