I still remember the drive to the gasteenitsa vividly. The long road leading out of the airport, twisting through the worn out streets of south-central Siberia. The streets were devoid of life, besides us, as it was only 5 in the morning. Halfway through it, I fell asleep, and woke up to the soft murmur of voices coming from around me. The front steps I had originally tried to go up were pink, and they were the wrong set of stairs. The next set were grey with a trash barrel next to them. You had to ring a doorbell to be let into the building. The grumpy key lady had to come open the door for you, amd stay there until we were done unloading the van of our 7 duffel bags, five backpacks and two suitcases. Our room was the last room on the left, and there were things sticking out of the walls with flower pots on top of them, some form of Russian art, I guess. I passed out on the one bed about 30 seconds after we arrived. I woke up at 2. I could have slept longer, but Anya had made an appearance with her friend Ira (EE-rah). We finally got to do some exploring of the city later that night. the amusment park down the street, the "mall", my favorite restaurant in the entire world, Chocoladnitsa, the River Tomb (Tom), and all the other wonders.
Since I've returned home from the dismal place seldom on a map, the sadness has been overwhelming, knowing that there are people living in this place of coal dust and desperation. Knowing that it's been almost a year since I've seen my sister, and Anya and all of the others.
There's also the sense of guilt that comes with things, such as drinking water. Most Americans don't think about it when they turn the tap on and get a glass of water. I do. I took a sip of water from the orphanage, and then realized my mistake when I got home. Giardia. Parasites. Most of the kids at the DD have them, because there is NO clean drinking water. I'm still careful with water here, scared to drink it, almost. I can't drink it if it tastes a little off, for fear of a repeat. There's guilt in everything, opening a textbook at school, putting my glasses on my face, getting changed for gym, playing my clarinet, walking the hill-less route from school to my house, in the nice weather. Things that a normal kid wouldn't think twice about, I cherish. Most kids in 8th grade hate getting changed for gym, its a pain and pointless. While I hate it, I love it at the same time. I HAVE something to change into. Some kids don't.
On another note: Since it's been a whole year since Russia, I'm going to get back into learning the language. I speak it well enough to get by, and not order 5 coffees (love you mum!) accidentally. But I'm nowhere near fluent. My sentences are somewhere along the lines of "I be listen music. Me like horse." instead of "I am listening to music. I like horses"
And finally, I will leave you with a question: Who are the waiting ones? Us, the family she will belong to eventually, or her, a lost orphan girl?