Traveling with a newborn is exactly what it sounds like – but don’t be fooled by that. My husband and I figured that there was a big difference between listening to Lyovka cry from colic in a Moscow apartment, and listening to Lyovka cry from colic with a view of the Black Sea and the Kara-Dag volcano. We were right to pick the latter option this August. Traveling relaxed him. At worst, we took turns eating at restaurants while Lyovka was being wheeled around in a pram thoughtfully provided by a random person when we first got there. In general, Koktebel was awash with thoughtful random people at the end of summer. The plankton in the water lit up at night. Musicians played Pink Floyd covers, bathing suits were optional, people lit up lanterns and sent them out into the air and the open sea.
Right now, it seems that summer is something that happens to other people. Still, I have pictures proving otherwise.
I wait for this year’s summer with the knowledge that when it comes, I’ll be set to become a parent. I guess that this may seem a little odd, all things considered, though it was last summer in particular that convinced me that being a parent is something that I want and can do. It was the Black Sea that showed me these things about myself, and the Crimean mountains, and the steppe. Moscow sealed the deal. It’s interesting how Ukraine and Russia work in my life. Ukraine gives me gifts – Russia forces me to do something with them. (America makes sure I do it well.)
I’m grateful, really. For the past and for the present. I’m grateful for the snow now, and for having the chance to walk across it, to meet people I like. I’m grateful for the afternoon phone-calls, for work, for having the chance to read and re-read Anna Yablonskaya’s plays. I’m even grateful for being sick, because then I have time to lie there and think, being unable to do anything else. And to everyone I’ve known and loved, I’m grateful too.
I went swimming across the universe once. In late summer on the Black Sea, plankton lights up in the water as you enter it – sending alarm messages in case you’re a possible predator. I used to be terrified of the sea at night, but I had begun to change by then, which is why I was able to terrify the plankton instead.
Turning away from the shore, I swam towards a hint of horizon, with stars above me and stars below, nothing between me and the water and air. Every single movement of my body produced light, while the sky above moved as well, lighting up with meteorites. The night before, a meteor fell into the water just a hundred feet away – we had been convinced it was a rocket from shore at first, but I was on the (mostly empty) shore at that late hour, and I knew for a fact it couldn’t have been a rocket.
“How is that even possible?” We asked each other as we sat and stared out across the dark water.