It’s a little unbelievable. Two years was supposed to be a looong time.
I have to refrain from using words like shcho? and ya ne snayu because no one understands me. I still have a tendency to use big gestures and enunciate.
Sometimes I still rehearse how I would say something in Ukrainian, when I’m going into a store to ask for something. Sometimes I still picture my home as a one-room apartment with a bed that doesn't sag anymore (cuz Dad fixed it when he visited), wallpaper that hangs in the main room and bathroom, refrigerator that is the LOUDEST thing I ever had to sleep near, and no hot water in the kitchen.
I got back on Dec. 22 from my two year three month service in the Peace Corps. My family was waiting for me at the airport. There were lots of hugs. We went to Panda Express for supper.
Now I have to do responsible things again. I didn’t drive in Ukraine which means that I didn’t have to take care of a car, get gas, take it in for maintenance, update insurance and registration, or keep track of a driver’s license.
I went to the Loveland Driver’s license office the other day because I misplaced mine. I took note of the “credit cards not accepted” sign, grabbed a ticket that said number 81 and sat down to wait. Number 60 was being helped so I ate my lunch and played games on my new phone.
At last my number was called and I jumped up quickly and shouted that I was right here because they’d hesitate a single second to see if anyone responded before moving on to the next number. “It’s 22 dollars for a replacement,” I was told.
I opened my wallet and saw that I had $21 and 150 hryven (Ukrainian).
“Credit cards really aren’t allowed?” I said as I proffered the 20. She shook her head so I commenced to digging.
I scrabbled through my purse searching for change. I found a fistful of kopecks (Ukrainian coins), a few korunas (Czech) and two dimes and a nickel.
(Does that sound like bragging? Well, it is! Because I have traveled places!)
The cashier, kind woman that she was, had come up with 50 cents from her change cup.
She shrugged helplessly at me because I was still a quarter short and I, who was not about to forfeit my place in line and wait through another lunch period, whirled to the sea of faces waiting to be called and said, “Who would like to give me 25 cents?”
Several people reached into pockets and pulled out quarters, including a wonderful woman who came forward. “All you need is 25 cents?” she asked.
Two boys in front joked about how I could have gotten more out of them.
It reminded me of that time in Ukraine when I was waiting at the post office to send a letter and the lady in front of me was 50 kopecks short. Actually, she wasn't short, she had the money but the postal lady wanted exact change because every sales person in Ukraine is short on coins. I don't get it.
I dug in a pocket, came up with the change, and gave it to the postal lady. "Thanks," the woman said and hesitated, "but now what do I do?" Because she couldn't pay me back.
"Don't worry about it," I told her, which was totally shocking to her.
So I really miss Ukraine... but the US is pretty cool, too.