Friday, May 24, 2013

Mysterious Swelling Ankle and Fermenting Armpits


A man sleeps in a contorted position like a marionette whose joints weren't rightly put together. His mouth pushes the foul air in and out like a rumbling bellow, unabashedly open and gaping in a way you only can if you've slipped into another realm.

There's a new young man in our crew of four. “Calvin Klein” blatantly yells from his underwear as he sleeps in the fatal position. Though his t-shirt bore the American flag, his shirt claims pro-Ukraine.

Everyone town we pass is unfamiliar and adorable. Everything is a vibrant, luscious green that makes it seem as if someone got hold of the contrast toggle of reality and cranked it hard to the right to contrast with the desaturation I had experienced in Russia a few weeks ago of monotone browns and greys that I still managed to find inviting.

I can see the wind is active outside, causing the trees outside to ever so gracefully smash into each other (only trees can do things like that, you know) and wonder why we don't open the windows on our train which is turning into a human greenhouse. The air is humid in a way that I am scared to say is just a faint hint of what I'll experience this summer. Somehow, the notion to make another hot jar of jasmine green tea seemed like a good idea. The man above and opposite me has drunken too much and showered too little so that, when I stand up, it gives off the aroma of fermenting armpit. I'm pretending that it works like smoke and, if I keep my head close to the lower level the train, the smell will rise and escape my notice. Each time he adjusts his pillow, grey feathers float down and find their way into my tea and nose.

As I walk past to the bathroom, a man starts to ask his wife in a distorted, uncertain accent, “We go outside?” I had heard them speaking Russian before so I'm afraid it's only meant for my attention. Just speaking to someone else in my native tongue is not, in my opinion, an invitation to converse with you, so I pass on by. I appreciate it when people attempt English, for my sake, but I'd really be fine if they kept up with Russian as rarely their English goes beyond what I can comprehend in Russian. I keep looking straight ahead.

One man, today, was sweet. He gave me a monologue about someone in the bathroom as we waited together. I can imagine he was saying, “Dude, there's gotta be some lady in there really taking a huge dump or somethin'. I dunno, man. I'm afraid it's going to reek when we get in there. What else could be taking her this long? Maybe painting her belly with make-up?

After a minute or two of nodding, I finally informed him I didn't speak Russian. He asked me, in Russian, “You don't speak Russian?” “Nyet.” Then, in English he said, “You speak English?” “Yeah, I guess I do. Yes.” “Me English speak bad,” said he. Finally, after an extended pause he knocked on the bathroom door and tried the handle. No one was in there.

My ankle has swollen up from a mysterious bite I got in a park in Moscow. I got a few and my body reacted in a way I'm not used to. The babushka across from me, Purple Shirt, is fanning herself with the newspaper and it fans me as well and feels magnificent. Her hair is radical when she finally gets up from her nap.

It's odd to rouse myself from the perpetual nap that most of the occupants of the train have settled into. Sleep. Drink. Sleep. Cookie. Sleep. Newspaper. Sleep. Turn over. Insert a few occasional conversations and 22 hours will soon have passed.

I've been inventing games. See how much water you can drink. See how long you can go without peeing, even when you really have to. Enjoy the feeling of peeing when you really have to. See how long you can go without eating some more raw honey. See how long you can hold your breath. Count the bicycles. I tried to get all the Ukrainians to play Duck Duck Goose but I don't think they got the idea...

Reading back, this entire post may seem like a complaint, but, if you'll look at it, none of it speaks to my attitude toward it all. Altogether, I feel amicable and pleasant. Neutral. It doesn't feel like this is my life. I haven't considered wanting to be anywhere else to think about where that would be or desire to be elsewhere. I'm grateful to be here. I like riding on trains.

I think it's time to break open the sunflower seeds. With that, another few hours ought to pass. Maybe Beth Moore feels like yelling at me from my iPod for a while.

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