At the Copper Pub, I failed to please the pierced brunette lady who pretended she didn’t want to teach me Ukrainian. I made chums with an American compatriot over beers and english. We drank up and bounced to a new bar. Chum knew the places we could get beers for .85 cents. Somewhere on Sofiivs’ka Street, I think. We befriended two pretty Ukrainian students, and their good-humored pal. Learning language, discussing the current state of State, considering life, reflecting on it’s beauty. Don’t mention The Beast to the East. I ordered round after round, despite their half-hearted protests. At some point we were shouting “Fuck Putin”. That was the first time I contemplated being in Ukrainian jail. 5x people eating ourselves dull, drinking ourselves drunk, in 4x short hours, the bill was $70 USD. I split it with Chum.
We smoked cigarettes and said our good-byes. Chum and I drifted through the snowfall from bar to bar, dollar-beers everywhere. Trudging about, a fella noticed our English and offered us beautiful Ukrainian hookers. He was a nice enough fella, and it was a good proposition. We took his number, maybe to call him later, and didn’t.
We found ourselves loitering. The moon was full. It shimmered brilliantly above in the deep, ever-expanding night. Casted above Kyiv, watching over like a guardian. In gratitude we began to howl. Hooowl, hooooowwl. Like belching gospel in church we praised. Your light, your brilliance, your inspiration to rise regardless of all else, we thank you moon!
The main street, Maidan Nezalezhnosti, was wide and well lit. A police office thought to talk with us, and approached. I pushed old chum to go left, I turned to go right. We were next to Freedom Square, I noticed, naively hankering to avoid all irony.
I was so joyed and pleased with myself. I decided this cop was my friend. I spoke to him that way. He liked being my friend. Who doesn’t like having American friends? We left the well-lit street though, and met some of his cop buddies. More friends, I casually supposed.
Because I had drank and was in public, I had to go to jail. Even though we were friends, it seemed. The jail and process, loosely, brokenly described, sounded bad. Long and trying. As it turns out though, I can pay the cash fee upfront. We’ve no such conveniences in America, anymore, anyways. The USD equivalence my three friends needed was $7. I only had a $14 note. Merry Christmas – Veseloho Rizdva (Веселого Різдва) My friend returned me .80 to get a taxi. I got a beer.
I was now alone. Head to the sky, still standing in history’s empty cross streets. The cradle of Slavic civilization. They were all so damn wrong, Ukraine is the coolest! Cheap beer, beautiful women, 300+ churches, friendly police, Christmas magic – What’s not to love?
I wondered towards the blue sparkling Christmas tree I saw earlier. By the river, if I remember right. Another selfie-photo-shoot. Then, a cafe for soup! I realized I was good and drunk. The warm air flushed my face and the room tilted wryly. I’ve a flight in a few hours I reminded myself. I gave the server boy the rest of my Ukraine monies (hirshi), which was more than I gave the cops. He shit his pants. He insisted I was making a mistake. I looked at him square, face to face, eyes on eyes, and told him to buy something nice for the people he loves. I don’t think he understood me, but nodded affirmatively anyways.
I was lost. There was a karaoke bar. I went in to warm and ask for our location. They explained I was not smart for walking the streets at night and then hovered over my map speaking in Slavically twisted tongues.
He was a nice young lad, and she had amazingly make-upped eye lashes. Thick like Gaga, but otherwise, a pretty girl. Considering how long it took them to place us on the map, I didn’t take their “not smart” comment to heart. They said if I did not take a taxi I’d probably be robbed, raped and laughed at. The streets were empty and I didn’t believe them. But, they also didn’t tell me how to get home, or precisely where on the map we were. So, I let them hail me a cab.
I got home to the Dream Hostel in a daze, and chattered with some German fellas. The dark haired girl in her pajamas wanted to be my friend and I wanted to be her everything. She was from small town Ukraine, street-wise and appreciative of what this life offers. Its amazing how quickly we’re comfortable with strangers on the road. Or maybe thats just what falling in love is, and the ones we cross paths with on the road are the ones we fall for. I fall for? I’ll never be sure.
It was time for me to go and she gave me a friendly peck on the lips. I shook off the chills and said good-bye with an overwhelmed heart. I actually don’t even know her name. But it’s not her I’ll miss. This good-bye was really good-bye to the road. For now. I’ll get on that plane and be back in NYC with my apartment and my suits and my fancy job and my lack of friends, or desire for any. It’ll be back to the same fantasy everyone I just met wishes for and I can’t get away from.
I hopped in a taxi with the German fellas, instead of sleep. It would be wiser to soldier through the sobering at the airport. I had one last flirt with the sandwich girl before check-in. Time to pay the price. I felt like a mack truck carrying an entire forest of logs backed up on me. Demons at battle within and throughout my body, eating me alive from the inside. I had no attention span, no tolerance, and could hardly walk. Physically gross, mentally ravaged. Maybe this balances out just how much fun I crammed into my short stay. 4 churches, 15+ U-brewed beers, 5 meals and a heart infinitely exploding with false love.
Good bye Ukraine, I love you.
Learn Ukrainian: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBwMg6Eav-0