Pirouettes and Pas de Moi

posted in: Travel | 1

There’s not a whole lot to report today. The temperature has been hovering around freezing all week, which means that the snow is all still here, and every time I leave the house I discover a different form of ice, slush, mud, and treacherous footing. It doesn’t help that my shoes are inappropriate for these conditions, and I not sure if it’s worth it to buy proper shoes just for a few weeks. I don’t mind it, the snow and the slipping and sliding, but it’s definitely losing its charm. And I’m ready to explore after being cooped up for so long.

This week I did meet with a colleague of a friend of a friend who works for the organization I’m hoping will sponsor my visa. He seems like a cool guy, and he invited me to join him and some friends at volleyball a couple nights a week. I would enjoy that immensely, as I loved volleyball when I was a teenager, so I’m hoping to join soon. I could attempt Romanian and make friends. It will also be a good opportunity to practice things like depth perception and hand-eye coordination, things I took for granted before this field cut came along (a result of the stroke). I expect to get hit in the face a few times, but that’s okay. I’m accustomed to looking stupid by this point, which is surprisingly liberating.

Today, however, I got to enjoy a couple hours of ballet practice. And when I say ballet practice, I mean involuntarily performing pirouettes and pas de moi up and down icy hillsides in insufficient footwear. It was a real Nutcracker, let me tell you…

This morning I decided to venture out a little further and visit a church. The two guys I’ve met from this organization I’m hoping to help attend different churches, one with services in Russian and the other in Romanian. I opted for the Romanian-language church, since that’s the language I’ve chosen to study at this time, and it was only a thirty-minute walk away according to my phone. However, even more than a week after the snowfall, the sidewalks and smaller roads were still covered in ice and snow–and did I mention my lack of appropriate footwear?–so it was slow going. By the time I reached the street the church was on, I was already quite late, and I still didn’t know where along the street it was. It didn’t help that in Chișinău, sometimes what is listed in an address as a street is really a small web of streets with the same name. You have to comb a neighborhood for a house number, assuming the house number is even visible.

I know that in this culture 11 a.m. doesn’t necessarily mean 11 a.m. on the dot, and that religious people of any denomination here would likely be accustomed to people coming and going during a service (something normal in Orthodox churches, which dominate Moldova). But as I turned off the main road to start hunting for a three-story building marked 12 somewhere in this web of streets, I discovered that this little neighborhood was built on the side of a very steep hill, and the road had not been plowed. Having already wiped out on a much gentler slope a few minutes before, I realized that even if I slid down the hill on my butt, there was no way I was going to get back up the road, not in these shoes. So I bailed. I turned around and walked back the way I came, though this time I avoided the slipperiest stretch by giving in to my baser instincts and walking down the middle of the well-plowed thoroughfare. This stretch was all uphill, too, so oncoming traffic gave me an excuse to stop and catch my breath.

So yep, I skipped church. I’d been warned my whole life that skipping church was a slippery slope, but, well, it turns out not even attempting to attend would have saved me from such a fate. But there I was, out their in the cold with my sole slipping away…

Anyway, that’s an elaborate account of me trying not to die in slushy mud on the side of a narrow, hilly road. And I understand now why you sometimes hear about older adults having heart attacks while they’re out shoveling their driveway or whatever; when you’ve got an insulated jacket collecting your body heat inside it and cold air in your face keeping you energized, it’s easy to underestimate how much strain your body is under. You only notice it when you get home and take of your jacket to find yourself soaking wet with trapped sweat.

Oh, and fun news: the forecast calls for more snow all week next week. I don’t actually mind the snow, but it keeps me cooped up, and I’m getting squirmy by this point. But I’ll try to be productive; I expect some quality time with my sidekick Duolingo and my archnemesis Netflix in the coming days.

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