Gathering Impressions

Tamara Kobilkina, a dear friend from Mirnyy, had that certain turn of phrase. She spoke English very well, but there are ragged edges in the overlap of languages. One idea can be expressed beautifully in one language, perhaps because it is a concept widely understood by the culture. But that same idea is awkward in another language.

Tamara liked to ask me what my impressions of Russia were, what I thought of different things and places that I have seen.

I had forgotten about her “Impressions” question until I went to Germany with Chris. I was full of ideas and new sites, sounds and tastes. I turned to Chris, to ask him what he thought of everything.

I had to grope for the right phrase. “So what do you think?” did not adequately cover the ground.

“What are your impressions of this place?” is just right.

If I ever see Tamara again, I will thank her for that beautifully fitting question.

I have so many many many many impresssions.

I loved the trip. I have been LONGING to go to a foriegn country. I have been to the UK and to Ireland in the past decade. But they did not feel foriegn.

Because, you see, we speak the same language. How foriegn can we be?

And I remember the HIGHLY foriegn country that I spent a year and a half in.

Anyone that knows my family, not just one or two individuals, but my whole family, knows that some part of us is frozen, like Han Solo, around the impressions we got in Russia.

So, I wanted to try a new flavor of foriegn country. Russia was so tremendously exciting.

Tamara told me that I understood the Russian soul.

I don’t think so. Maybe just being impressionable is the Russian soul.

Right now, I am full to the brim of impressions of my trip to Germany. I am very sad to have left.

Yet, here I am talking about everything but Germany!

well, there is a lot to tell.

One of my huge impressions is of the contrast, how INCREDIBLY TERRIFYING my stay in Russia was.

and how incredibly ignorant I was. I did not even know enough to be afraid.

My mother told me that she was really scared to be in Russia.

To her, she said, Russia was the bad guys.

In school, she said, we were taught to drop under the desks to be safe if Russia dropped the bomb on us.

Well, I didn’t go to school. I had VERY little TV, or Movies to tell me who the bad guys were.

Because, you know, you have to be told.

It has been ten years since I lived in Russia. That’s pretty much the span of my adult life.

I’ve seen a lot of TV and Movies since then.

And most of those TV and movies pointed to the Germans as being the bad guys.

When I was in Germany there were a few moments of feeling illogically afraid.
I have more sympathy for my mom’s fears, now.

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