I am so ready to go home. I know I’ve only been gone seven nights, but I miss my daughter so very much that I can hardly stand to SKYPE her. She’s my number one reason for homesickness, but here are some others:
1. The weather. The thermometer in Moscow is hovering around 36; back home, my people are enjoying 85 degree afternoons. I need to be barefoot as soon as possible.
2. Ice. Drinks don’t come with ice. I want some ice in my drink rather than on the ground.
3. I miss my people. I need a night in with the girls, a party on the deck, a lunch out with a friend, coffee with my sister, dinner with my parents.
4. I need a new book. I’m bored (not THAT bored, Butter!) and have read all five of the books I brought with me. Plus the one that hubs brought too. I am taking the Princess to the library ASAP and stocking up.
5. Food and Drink. I want to raid my refrigerator of American food not send Prince Charming to the market to buy one Russian item per day. I have no coffee maker here and am subsisting on instant espresso and hot tea. I want a real cup of coffee and some iced tea. (See also #2)
6. Toilet paper. Our apartment was stocked with flower-scented TP. One of John’s earliest trip to the market was for replacement tissue. He came back with the only alternative: Green Apple Scented Toilet Paper. My butt deserves better.
7. Safety. The apartment is not childproof. My home isn’t perfect either, but it is much better than the loose cords and power strips in every room.
8. Humidity. The air here is so dry that my skin looks like I am an alligator. I live in constant fear of being shot, skinned and sewn into a nice purse. Feel free to remind me of this post in August when I’m whining about the 90 percent humidity and 90 degree weather. Til then, bugger off.
9. Jet lag. I can’t sleep and am miserable. I would love to go home and spend three days in bed. I don’t think the children will allow it.
10. Last, but certainly not least: FAMILY. When I finally arrive home later this week with the baby in tow, this journey will come to a close. Not motherhood, obviously, but the journey to take our little family from three to four. I’m ready to get this thing started.
When we brought the Princess home in 2005, Prince Charming took several weeks off from his usual travel to spend some time with her. It worked perfectly because I had been offered a nice consulting gig that would only last a month. The one caveat? I had to start just two days after we returned home.
As I left for work that first Monday morning, I was very confident that my husband would be totally competent. I was teary at leaving our happy nest, but glad to have the diversion after being out of work for several months.
Around noon, he called me frantic. “She WON’T STOP CRYING.”
“Did you change her diaper?”
“Yes. And I played with her and rocked her and bounced her and tried to lay her down for a nap…but NOTHING. She’s SCREAMING HER HEAD OFF. What should I do?”
“Honey,” I ask calmly, “did you FEED her?”
“What? We just had breakfast at seven!”
“Feed her. Not everyone eats ONE meal a day. Give the kid some DAMN food!”
Some time passes and he calls back.
“She won’t take a bottle!”
“What are you giving her?”
“Just mix some formula and try that.”
Something about this conversation gives me pause. I am 100% certain that I gave Sophie the last of the juice last night, and am pretty certain that there wasn’t another container lurking around. Being that this is a temporary consulting job, I give myself a couple of hours off and head home early. I arrive to a full-bellied, napping baby and a frazzled husband.
“You were right,” he says. [Duh.] “She must have been hungry.”
“Hon. About the juice. I’m confused. We are out of juice.”
“No. It’s that carrot/tangerine VRUIT stuff you’ve been giving her in the carton.”
“No. We’re out. I’m certain.”
“Well, it’s right here in the frig. I poured her a bottle and she wouldn’t drink a DROP.”
I ask him to show me. We stand in front of the refrigerator and I watch in horror as he pulls out a carton of — drumroll please — Swanson Chicken Broth.
“Read the box, John.”
Yeah. Literally. You just gave my baby a bottle full of cold chicken broth. It still makes me shiver to even think about that innocent child opening up sweet little mouth and swilling cold chicken broth.
Thank God she has no recollection of this. It’s bad enough that we are parenting idiots from time to time, but cold chicken broth? We simply do not have enough money saved for the therapy she will need.
Between the time change to DST, the jet lag between the US east coast and Moscow, and -oh I don’t know- LITTLE things like adopting a child, I have completely and totally given myself over to what might be called madness.
Regardless of its name, I am now realizing that there are some things one should NOT do while under its influence. Such as…
1. Cutting one’s own bangs at 3 am local time because one has been awake for an insane number of hours yet cannot sleep. Thankful now for my purple highlights as the funky bangs (ie WAY the fuck too short) work just perfectly.
2. Feeding one’s baby organic blueberry/beet baby food after consuming 4 cups of espresso. I don’t think this stuff is going to wash out. If you are looking for me this summer, I’ll be the short-banged, purple highlighted chick wearing tie dye. Kids too.
3. Using the washing machine in our apartment without consulting instructions/translation. I tossed everything we wore in on day one in the washer and apparently BOILED IT. Cyrillic alphabet does not easily convert unfortunately. John’s white tee shirt is now a dingy blue and my fave purple shirt now fits my seven year old.
I’ve been back in the USSR – so to speak – for less than 48 hours and am already ready to be in my own bed. Seven more days to go so that’s not a great sign.
I am pleased with our apartment however. It is very quaint and right in the heart of the city. From the street side, it looks like magnificent. From the entrance/alley side, less so. It was advertised as having an external entrance and lobby. The “entrance” is a chip-activated door leading from the alley parking. The “lobby” is a 3’x3′ stoop with mail slots. We are on the fifth floor and there is a working elevator so I won’t complain. The elevator is one of these delicate things that is exactly big enough for me, Prince Charming and the baby. If we stand sideways.
Ensconced in our home for a week, we have two separate bedrooms, a living room, a decent kitchen and a bathroom. We also have free wi-fi, a local phone, and an international phone with unlimited long-distance calling. Best of all we have a washer so we were able to pack fairly light and will wash clothes regularly.
When I booked the apartment online, there was an option to pre-purchase some grocery items to have the refrigerator stocked when we arrived. Believing at that time that Sophie would be accompanying us (another story), I went ahead and placed a small order so we would have something for that first night and first breakfast:
1 loaf wheat bread, 1 loaf plain bread, 1 cheese (Gouda or similar), 1 salami, 3 small vanilla yogurts 1 liter of grape juice, 1 liter of milk, 2 apples, 2 bananas and 10 eggs.
Fifty-three bucks to cover a few meals seemed like a good idea. And it was. Except for the cheese.
I love cheese. Yellow, white, young, aged, hard, soft – I love it all. Except Swiss. I hate Swiss cheese. Bet you can guess what is in my refrigerator here. That’s right. Approximately TWO POUNDS OF SWISS CHEESE! I imagine the cleaning lady will be thrilled to empty the refrigerator when we move out.
IF she likes Swiss cheese, that is.