{Kiev, Ukraine. 2012}
I don’t remember the name of the cathedral where I took this crooked picture. I was on a twisty stone staircase & stuck my canon out the window slot hoping it would focus decently in 15 seconds.
I do remember the 25 minute walk south back to my apartment. & the Ukrainians, strangers to me but friends of my companion, who joined us. Especially Serge. He jumped into the deep end and began a conversation about culture & its impact on identity. I remember grasping some and wondering how much was lost in translation: he saying that Ukrainians are a giant slightly-fractured family, connected by language & history; me explaining how regions and states greatly influence our identities as Americans & how strange it feels to be from such a young country. I remember sweat making my sandals slippery. I remember statues of men who made history before my nation’s continent was even discovered. I remember passing a former KGB building, a testimony to the suffering these people have risen from. I remember twisting alleys, tiny balconies with red geraniums, a specific shade of blue in the sky. The clash of European / Soviet architecture that tells Ukraine’s history in letters of stone. Kvas that somehow tasted better shared from a plastic liter than it had from a glass pint. I remember trying to bury the culture shock in a corner of my mind. Fighting to be _present_; to put off processing. Not a shock of shifting from the states to an Eastern European culture —by then I was so immersed it was strange to hear English. This culture shock was more from abrupt circumstantial shift. The waves of overwhelm that came from finding myself suddenly in a nation’s capital city after ten days spent at a very off the grid & impoverished orphanage.
I remember getting to know streets and customs. Soaking up every little glimpse into Ukraine thought processes & culture. The bakery where my best friend and I were addressed in Ukrainian, and how psyched out of our minds we were when they were surprised we weren’t locals. The green grass of the park behind our apartment. Sitting on the windowsill of our kitchen drinking tea. Watching dogs & kids play 4 stories below us. I remember eating lemon & chocolate “marojina” from a street vendor & aching to take some back to littles with dirty faces and hungry hearts. I remember Kiev becoming my city. I remember thinking how insane it was: that this country girl from the south would navigate her first big city & learn metro survival in a city where her native language was barely spoken. I remember enjoying it all. But mostly aching to get back to work at orphan camp. I remember all the moments my heart fell in love with Ukraine on its first trip. And how much harder it fell the next. 
i remember where my heart is. And where I’m supposed to be. 

1 comment:

Abi said...

Damn it, woman I am so mad at you. You are beautiful and possess a depth in your soul others have hazy dreams of. You breathe the power of image into words and give them muscle. You are willing to ask the hard questions and wrestle and wrestle and wrestle and surrender to the Lord and walk with a limp with joy. And yet you are constantly putting yourself down (or at least were the last time we Skyped). Please stop? I miss you and I love you and I'm so GRATEFUL to know you and insanely blessed that we share the same heart country.