Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Kate in Murmansk

The most meaningful encounters can happen at the most mundane of rituals (not that I consider grocery shopping mundane...).

Yesterday, before I hopped on the train, I knew I needed to grab some food at the supermarket. I deliberately did the 15 minute trek down the hill just so I could climb it with my purchases.

Once I got into the heart of the city, I wandered, but wasn't exactly sure where to get the groceries. Since I shortly had to be catching the train, I decied to ask a mother who was pushing her child around town.

I was able to ask in Russian, but she replied in English.
She was about to give me directions, when she told me that she was going to be walking to one and I could walk with her.

We had an engaging conversation in simple English as we dodged puddles and zig-zagged through the city. At one point, her son started to cry so she carried him and I offered to push the stroller. At first she said she had it, but I insisted and she let me, with a "Thank you." Momma-bear - you were not going to carry a child and push a stroller when I'm walking right beside you.

At the end, she asked how many days drive it takes to get from Alaska to Murmansk.

“Well... four days on a boat, four days on a train, a day on a plane, a day on a train, two days in a car, and then a day on a train,” I told her. She covered her mouth and laughed at the thought of that.

When it came time to leave, I stuck my hand out and said, “I'm Mägi. What's your name?”
She beamed and said, “Kate.”

Then, it was odd, her eyes started to water a little (maybe it was the wind?) and she said, “We meet... we...” and she tried to find the words. She breathed and then said, “I'm very happy. Very happy I meet you.” She gave me a look that meant a lot was going on beyond the words she was saying. And then I almost started to cry but I'm not sure why.

It felt like an honest, open connection that we both had been needing. I don't know her circumstances, but maybe she needed a friend at the moment just as much as I desired a connection with a stranger as I walked the streets of Murmansk.

I know I needed it. I had been down on myself (stupid broken records sometimes start playing, despite how many times I try to smash them). When you reach out, others often will meet you where you're out. When you smile at someone, sometimes they even smile back. And, in Russia, those smiles, being so few, mean even more to me.

1 comment:

Your words make me grin.

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