April 2015

Jaazaniah*, 2003

Jaazaniah*, 2003

Holding a picture and a “never, never” you were a gritter of teeth and a ram, but because you heard Him you answered yes. You stepped into a heavyset bus with orange curtains in the land of Rus, where you fell and jammed the knee to a bruise, ripening under pale skin. A bumpy endless night follows, with a skipping refrain from a silver Walkman:

And I know that someday soon, you’ll make sense of this despair, and your love, your love, will get me there.

Open the shutters and see the first summer that you were awake, drink the sparkling stars and tall, skinny pines like a shot of vodka, with shivers and burn and clarity.

Earth, rain, mud, sense and a cry, the original cry that was answered with the unexpected, longed for yes.

Through flooded showers with strangers’ hair grabbing at feet like snakes, through mosquitos feasting on flesh layered in sweat and dirt, through a shared mascara and a new friend who shared your name there was that yes,

the yes that answered the question, the original question.

You sat there, twelve and ancient, infinite and tired, tasked with tasking the children with crafts you didn’t understand, and some tasks just don’t make sense in the entropy, and the prayer pours out in all its young, eternal specificity:

“Let it rain God, a rain with drops big like I’ve never seen, but let it be for only five minutes.”

And when the sky immediately rumbles and cries your tears of relief, it is all naturalness to you, but

joy, joy, joy!

Joy in an oversized grey hoodie, running through the forest path in the giddy hope that defines you. Slick with the answer dripping off your face, through your clothes, breathless and known.

I have now seen the One who sees me.

He was in this place and I did not know it.

*Jaazaniah is one of my middle names. It means “the Lord hears.”



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 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 без шапки. 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

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: