Today, a two-for-the-price of one story treat.
After a three-hour drive to Moscow, an 8-hour flight, 3 hours waiting in passport control at super-efficient and terrorist-free JFK and a four-hour drive to my parents’ house, my aunt, my dad’s sister, is here. She brought lots of goodies and stories from Russia, including, for my mom, pictures and a letter from her best friend for 25 years.
There’s nothing like a visit from her to really put my life in perspective. Not only does she make me feel 110% American (or maybe just reflects a mirror on who I really am as opposed to who I think I am,) but her stories also manage to make me feel extremely depressed, without fail, namely because every male that my dad has ever known in school is either dead, out of work, or divorced.
The first rule of the house when she comes is to always speak Russian since she doesn’t speak English. You would think this rule would only cause problems for myself and Mr. B.
However, to my surprise, my parents struggle as well because we’ve all become experts at Runglish. As I valiantly try to purport that treffik is awful on the Beltvai, my mom explains that she went na shopping to buy sneakersi and my dad says that his friend got into an aksident in his Dzheep.
It is virtually impossible to speak perfect Russian after 20 years in immigration. Our lives are filled with driving na highwayah (which is not at all the same as vodit’ mashinu po prospektam), cooking tyurka for Thanksgiving, and paying taxi (not nalogi) that we all hate so much.
While I tend to be more of the language purist and can usually suss out words that my parents need to translate, the issue is that I switch completely into English, but my parents use the Runglish crutch words. How do you explain that you went to excercise v’gyme to someone who has never been in a gym because it’s not the norm in Russia? How do you explain going out to lunch for someone who lives in a homecooked culture and where going out to a restaurant is a lavish occasion that costs a hefty amount of a paycheck?
Me, the parents, Mr. B, Mr. B’s parents- we’ve all fooled ourselves. Here we are, living in a Russian emigrant community, having Russian weddings, listening to the latest Russian music, watching Russian shows, proclaiming obnoxiously on our blog banners that we are Russian and named after a strawberry, and we are all 100% American. But when we are with Americans, we feel Russian. But it’s fun to feel American.
My mom, ornithologist
The other interesting piece of news around the house is that my mom has become the Birdman of Alcatraz.
It started with a call last week.
“I’m in the bathroom watching the bird right now,” my mom told me over the phone with an intensity she usually reserves for watching coupons.
“What bird? What are you talking about?”
“There’s a bird in one of our pine trees (to the very left in the picture) and she’s sitting on some eggs. She can’t leave, so I’m watching her. “ Conveniently, this tree is located right next to our first-story bathroom window, so my mom observes the bird daily from the bathroom.
I was updated on the status of the bird for about a week, until Mr. B and I ran out of clean clothes and went to my parents’ house to do laundry, as per usual. However, when I went to turn on the dryer, my mom went Cloverfield on me. “Don’t turn on the dryer! You’ll scare the bird and she’ll fly away!”
My mom became Overly Ornithological and there was no way I could stop her. Only my dad could overpower her and turned on the dryer, much to my mom’s dismay. My mom immediately ran into the bathroom to see if the bird would fly away. Somehow, the bird persevered. Although whether her eggs will hatch remains to be seen because, according to my mom, she has been at it for a week now, which is three days longer than another bird who was sitting on an egg in our bushes earlier in the week.
My mom doesn’t know when the bird’s eggs will crack, but I have a hunch that someone else’s eggs already have.
P.S. I know I still owe you Los Angeles, but I just can’t think of how to tie in the fact that our hotel was socialist/anarchist with a story about how I visited the locales of Ari Gold, so stay tuned.