On my last night in Petersburg, I dreamt that I was in a hotel on some business trip. While I was waiting in the foyer, I saw two little boys—donning golden mullets, of course—and smoking cigarettes. And when I say little, I mean little. They were 1 & 3 years old, without a parent in sight.
So I turned to a random lady walking by and asked her, “Excuse me, do you know whose children these are?” Impatiently, she responded, «Почему вы думали, что я говорю по-английски?» (Why did you think I speak English?). I quickly apologized and continued, “Извините, я не знала, почему я сказала этот. Но, об этих детях…” (Excuse me, I don’t know why I said that. But about those children…) And that’s the last thing I remember about my dream.
I’m pretty sure that I know exactly why I this occurred. The smoking boys were a clear reference to the photo project I’ve begun with my friend. Our task is to document everything we know and love about Russia but just can’t quite explain to non-Russian nerds in a way that adequately expresses its significance. We made an extensive list of items to include, but there was only one that got away: a pack of pre-teens smoking. (I know, I know, they are everywhere, but it’s hard to be stealthy and still get good pictures!)
The fact that the children were so young just makes the situation ridiculous, which I think sums up a lot of Russia in general. The strangest part so far about returning home has been the predictability, even despite shocking weather on the ride home from the airport: record 96-degree heat immediately followed by a hailstorm leaving behind fallen trees and marble-sized chunks of ice. Here in America, there are schedules that reflect actual transportation timing, drivers that abide by the rule of law, and even customer service that actually services the customer.
But my dream was more than just a cultural joke. It was my first dream in Russian. I wasn’t speaking Russlish, like my friends and I do all the time. I was speaking complete sentences coherently, and it was utterly illogical to do so otherwise, even in my dream. This was one of my semester goals: dream in Russian to prove that I have, at least somewhat, internalized the language.
I guess I failed to get that picture of 12-year-old boys smoking, but in terms of my general long-term goals: mission accomplished.