In characteristic neglect of my feminine duty, I had forgotten (“память девичья,” that poor faculty of retention, as my host mother likes to tease) to wash the Miras Moldova office when my turn turned up. I was a week late.
My partners had reassured me, suggesting that I invite our new French volunteer to assist. Now wouldn’t it be much easier this way!
This past Sunday, I rose early for autumn’s first chill dawn. I dressed and waited for my partner Anna’s call – she was hitchhiking in from her village. She rang from the cemetery. Though we had planned to meet at my place, her ride had dropped her early and unceremoniously. The walk to my director Olga’s house would be faster if Anna didn’t have to meet me.
I sighed, and trudged alone the 20 minutes to Olga’s home, where I joined the ladies and Olga’s parents for breakfast. We waited longer than we had planned for two neighbors, but we needed them – it’s wine season in Moldova!
Every weekday morning, I walk the right, left, right, right route to my office. This day was only different in the common way – different in that the weather had shifted. Comrat is transitioning to oncoming fall.
When you come to know how little you will know is vital. Part of it is developing the skill to change your vantage point. Part of it is learning to give yourself the side-eye. Humble advice: employ “the snort” for emphasis.
Recently, I’ve been reflecting on my integration into Comrat. It’s uncomfortable to know that I’m often still interpreting interactions and observations based on my own cultural framework and personal values. I’m perfecting the “you’re an idiot but I love you” internal monologue. I practice on the cat to make sure it’s affectionate.
Saturday Morning Lunch
I was sitting on concrete with lunch and a black cat when a man sauntered up to our front door. He called my host mother’s name, and I leaned out of the shadow of the summer house to summon his attention: “Anna Nikolaevna’s not home right now.”
The first thing that struck me was his smile, replete with silver grills. The second thing was his warmth.