Following a house party in Tomsk, small Nastia held my hand and wore my gigantic hooded fleece sweatshirt as she guided me through the streets to her home.
The streets were full of gray darkness and refreshing, autumn windiness and four a.m. emptiness. Nastia walked fast. Her hands were small. The sleeves of my sweatshirt were ridiculously, almost annoyingly, large for her. We passed trees' trunks interrupting the concrete.
Nastia spoke a lot, without listening. Maybe this was because she'd drunk a bit. Maybe it was because she likes talking to me; a lot of her best friends have moved away.
I like listening to her. I love her sly, mischievous smile. It makes my heart inflate with innocent happiness. Twenty-one-year-old, casually confident Nastia spoke about her friends - most of whom are wise and older than her.
After a while, she gave me back my sweatshirt, because it was too cool for me to be in only a t-shirt. We got to her home.
Nastia's home is in one of Tomsk's beautiful, two-story, log lodge houses. Her home is a corner room with a mattress on the floor, a low dining table, a computer full of music, and snow-faded-green paint on the walls.
We sat on cushions around the low table. Nastia turned on some folkloric Russian music and smiled mysteriously. We ate seaweed salad on sandwich meat on bread. Although it was late, I was timelessly content. In this situation, I didn't think I'd ever want to sleep.
Nastia laid out a separate mattress for me. The apartment in which I'd recently begun living was far from the center of Tomsk, and buses don't run late. I laid down, and Nastia kissed my forehead good-night.
In the mattress next to mine, she was very small. Less than a hundred pounds, she wrapped herself in a heavy blanket. Her soft-white, smiling, eyes-squeezed-shut head and princessly-light-brown hair protruded. Because her boyfriend was now asleep in the kitchen of the party, she cuddled with her beautiful, lustry-black, sharp-haired cat.
I slept very, very well. For three hours.
Nastia's boyfriend, Dima, came home at eleven a.m. He's a lot like me, except he's blond and thirty-two. Clever, capitalism-hating Nastia is more difficult to figure out.
I sat up. Nastia barked, "Chto ti? Spish!" (What are you!? Sleep!) But, we all kind of slowly woke up and drank tea. Outside, it was beautiful.
I walked across the old room.
Opened the window. The window was made up of four two-paned "doors" that swung open towards the inside or outside. Each window-door was made of thin wood and painted creamy white. Tomsk's wooden houses have thick walls, so the shelve between the inner and outer windows is big enough to sit in.
I pulled my legs up and sat in this window. Above and below me, the house's wooden face ended flatly and squarely and emphatically. Beneath me, the cement ground was also a flat plane. The world ended on these planes. Autumn began.
Yellow, crusty leaves littered the cement, beside trees' trunks. A more friendly than cold, autumn wind reminded me of childhood autumns back when Michigan autumns used to be stronger - back when we lived behind wooden window-doors, and young I and my brother wore light jackets and played in leaf piles beside jack'o'lanterns.
They say Siberia's winter is the worst. Maybe this also means the other seasons evoke stronger feelings. Maybe that's why DDT writes so many songs about autumn and spring.
I was in love. In love with autumn; in love with a wooden house; in love with Nastia; in love even with Dima, who is never bothered by anthing. I was in love with this moment.
peace, Modern O.
Thanks to Sergei; and Sergei Salodka for driving me to Tomsk!
"Den vydalsya chudesnyy: ya dumayu, krome Rossii, v sentyabre mesyatse nigde podobnix dnei i byvaet." (The day marvelously unfolded itself: I think that, except for in Russia, similar September days can't be found anywhere.) - Ivan Sergeevich Turgenyev, writer