It’s Christmas Eve! Веселого Різдва !! These Eastern Orthodox got it good with the post-New Year celebration. The commercialized, corporate-fueled eviscerating Christ and love blizzard has passed and snowy air dusts calmly in the cool night, on the big old city.
Landed 10AM in Ukraine. A frail older fella stood hunched over, holding up a paper sign “JOE MECCA”, Damn! Hell yeah Dream Hostel. The old fella and I taught each other how to say “hello” (pree-vee-yet), “please” (büd laska) and “thank you” (Djahk Oh-Yoh) in our respective languages. Those plus charades was how we communicated. We walked 20 minutes to his car. It smelt like stale cigarettes and cheap air freshener. We awkwardly danced to pop-electro music, driving down the long high-way stretches under dismal gray clouds. The open land had a sad, poor, eastern European feel and I wondered if everyone was right… Ukraine?
Ultimately, they were wrong, I was right. Surprise, surprise.
We drove straight and fast, I watched the trees, the empty land and the morning pass by. The billboards had a funky alphabet. A magnificent stone women held a sward to the sky! The statue must have towered 60 meters – massive! “I will pay her respects this afternoon!” I suggested to myself. Gold domes shined above the city like a never-forfeited hope the people held. I arrived at the Dream Hostel real hungry. I should have been more mindful of the roads that lead us there.
привіт ! The woman behind the desk had round glossy baby doll eyes. Brighter than the stars. Her hair the color of a late-afternoon sunshine on a meadow of golden wheat. Wheat for brewing. She had the answers to all my questions, a bashful smile, a twinkle in her face and a knife to my heart. I imagine every asshole flirts with her. I’m just another. “I’m from New York”, I replied to her curiosity. She swooes, as if I said something devilishly charming. Now she’s playing me. Or, I’m Don Juan vid America – breath taken. It’s been an hour in Kiev and I’ve already adopted a certainty to return. Damn, I’m primitive.
I grubbed on chicken smothered in Kyiv gravy and smashed potatoes. On the streets stands sold delicious desserts, round chocolate cakes and puddings and sprinkles and happiness. The wind whirled wisps of snow flurries before me. I was glad I had my hat. The skirt of the town had a chill and eerie emptiness that authenticated it the storied Eastern Europe.
I ventured to explore the churches. There’s 300x+! Glorious, opulent, powerful artwork, extensive design. A child stared up at the wall of heroes, the dead men that helped over-throw the president last year. Saint Anthony’s illuminated the imagination. For a moment, I felt sinless. Above, in the center, an empty dark dome, like a looming black-hole sun reigning over me.Metaphors and rock chase me. Candles, donations and prayers. Outside, I had a selfie-photo-shoot with the pale blue and glistening gold cathedral. The dark fell quickly. Near the gondola down to the town, a coffee-cart served me espresso.
I planned to return around 5PM, but would be 12 hours late.