This space has been silent since October. Part of it was the thyroid problem that sneakily sucked my energy during the winter months. But mostly, I think it’s that I’ve felt I’ve had nothing to say that I didn’t say during that 9 month stretch as a foreigner who bungee jumped every morning into the unknown.

Nine months was more like nine years or a century, and I realize that just because I can’t talk about it doesn’t mean I’ve said everything I have to say, will need to say.

The thoughts that come are incoherent but acute, little knives of memory and meaning.

I walked in the rain yesterday, and the chilly little drops slipped through my hair to my skull.

I smile and laugh when a Russian grandmother’s voice chastises me: Ты что без шапки!? What are you doing without a hat!? But despite the voice, I’m not there and am free to tempt fate by dangerously walking in the rain with my hair naked. I miss the voice of the collective Russian grandmother, but I shiver at the thought of going back.

On the walk I have nothing except my iPhone, snug in the back pocket of my jeans.  I start to think about the nights I treated it almost like salvation, sobbing into it during the breakdowns (there were many) to hear the voice of my parents, one constant when I knew no one and nothing and I couldn’t even leave my Soviet-era obschezhitiye without getting lost in the city.

I think about the many items that remain in our lives, constant, indifferent to events and changes, reminders of time’s brevity and how old we’ve become. The shoes I am wearing, L.L. Bean hiking boots, were the same ones that molded to my feet 6 years ago in the mountains of New York on that emotional pre-Gordon kayaking trip. I now walk in them years later as a different person, and I feel there has to be some significance in this.

There has to be some significance in the fact that inanimate objects can serve as milestones that invite us to consider the connections and continuity of our lives, of how a dress can be so much more than a dress- because I was wearing that dress when I talked to him for the first time,

when I found out I made it through the first round of the competition for a ticket to teach abroad,

when I gave that presentation in Russian, a whole twenty minutes long!

With each wearing of those boots, that dress, I am reminded that with every experience, we all deepen into a more complicated story that becomes harder and harder to tell.

I can’t quite form the significance into words, and for a moment, I think it means I shouldn’t write about it just yet.

I teach academic English to international students, and I attempt to pound into them the importance of well-structured essays that have a clear thesis statement and sufficient support. I have to do the same as a Masters student, to weekly churn out assignments that exemplify the ever-important criteria of organization and coherent thought.

I’m tired of it.

Maybe I want to think and write incoherently, because there is beauty in the thinking process, in the unrobotic lack of a clear thesis statement for this blog post,

for the walk in the rain,

for this process of processing Russia.

Instead of forcing myself to structure it, wouldn’t it be nice if the conclusion wasn’t the goal, and in a rebellious, healthy act I could just st


    1. I lived in Elabuga (a small city in the Republic of Tatarstan) from the end of Sept. ’13-June ’14. I taught English at a university. It was definitely one of the most difficult years of my life, but also one of the most meaningful. What were you up to in Russia?


      1. Oh wow, that’s cool. I was teaching English (private lessons) and helping missionaries (although there wasn’t that much for me to help with, really, but it was a great learning experience!)


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