Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Being in the water with hair tickling my back is the most comforting feeling. This was taken in the bathtub of Zeesy's old apartment on Lansdowne where she lived with Amy Lam and Katie Stelmanis. That tub was tiny and the enamel was wearing off. When I was four or five I learned how to swim in the Khopyor River which is an offshoot of one of Russia's major rivers - the Don. It is enormous. 1900 kilometers long. I stayed there every summer with my grandma Galina and great grandma Katia who was well over eighty years old and still worked in the garden every day. She used to send me to a bakery on Karl Marx street on the other side of the bridge where I once saw a homeless man for the first time in my life. I thought he was dead but he was just asleep leaning against the bakery wall while a crowd of angry people gathered around him. It was a hot and humid summer but he was wearing a thick winter coat.

To scare me from wandering too far from home my grandmother told me that a group of Tsigani (Gypsies) was in the area and that they will put me in a sack and take me away if I stayed out too late. I asked her to describe what Tsigani looked like and she basically described a bunch of hippies! Long hair, playing loud instruments, sort of bohemian. So at night while I was out I listened carefully to the sound of music once it got too dark to see clearly. Later I realized that her remarks were fucked up and racist but I'm not surprised because I find that lots of Russian people are. Correction: lots of old people are. Racist not fucked up. It's just a generation gap.

One summer my cousin stepped on a rusty nail and we found a hedgehog hanging out by the gooseberry bush. I was the only girl my age in town so I ended up spending most of my time with a group of boys. Some days they taunted me by pretending to make out with each other on our lawn as I watched through the living room window, because I was The Girl, and because that was obviously my role, and they just wanted to remind me. Those were the days I didn't go outside. Most other days were uneventful, spent by fishing and swimming. I stole small change and kerosene from my great grandma's shed and lit things on fire. I bought matches with the money I stole.

Anyway when I got back to Moscow I missed swimming so much that I practiced holding my breath under water in the bathtub for hours. I was very small then and my entire body took up about half of the tub, if even. These days I have to fold my knees a bit when I put my head under. When I crashed at M and A's fancy waterfront condo they had an enormous bathtub that I used to lie in for hours. They had a collection of cute bathtub toys, so uncharacteristic of a couple in their late thirties. I didn't have to fold my knees or push my body to the bottom because it was big enough to fit two people comfortably. That may have been why I stayed there for so long? Nope, it was the drugs.

Here's what I've listened to over ten times today it's been on repeat since noon! It's perfect for now, what a nice day. Bye friends.

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