Today, I left work early, walked twenty-five minutes to the Metro, took the train, got off at my stop, walked another twenty minutes to the store, purchased a sack of lemons, a package of parsley, and a plastic tupperware.
And I've never done any of that before.
I've made lots of excuses why I hang around work for an extra two hours waiting for Ben to get off, and yeah, most of them are valid. I'm planning lessons. It's a long, dark walk. I want to watch The Real Housewives of Somewhere by myself. But those aren't the only reasons.
I'm really freaked out by the idea of being by myself in Moscow. It's not necessarily the city thing or the language thing as much as it is a combination of both.
I was so confident in Chicago. I loved taking the el by myself for work, for my internship, and wandering the streets alone. Finding cafes to write in, looking for shops that sold clothing I could afford. I was never frightened, never shy about venturing into a neighborhood I had never been before. I thrived on it. I listened to music, I gathered thoughts, I wrote little poems on pieces of paper in my purse. But now?
I am shy and nervous. It began to seem like almost everyday I'd rehearse my Russian with Ben:
She'll ask you if you need a bag. Say this.
Then what will she say?
This. Say that.
What if she asks me something I don't understand? What if?
But when my last class ends and I'm left sitting and waiting, I just never have the nerve to walk through the dark streets to my train. I sit and I fret about all the possibilities. All the things that could happen and how I have no voice and the what if's and the worries... oh, I am just a worrier.
I was just a worrier.
A year or so ago, my friend Jessica and I were at a party when someone remarked on how small we both were. Jessica very calmly and confidently explained that she didn't like people calling her small and she didn't like to think of herself as small.
"I'm huge," she said. "I don't want to think of myself as a petitie person--petitie is forgettable and weak. I want to be huge."
That mentality really stuck with me. I began to figure that at some point I would have to stop telling myself I was a worrier and just be huge. So today I gathered up my things, looked through my Russian phrasebook, wrote down the words I needed to know to go to the store for dinner supplies, and waved good-bye to my boss.
"Oh, you're finally going!" she exclaimed. "Good for you. No reason to sit and wait around for so long."
I told her my plans to finally go to the store by myself.
"Good. You'll do fine. Remember! You're in Russia now! You're a Russian woman! Act like it!"
So I did.
I power-walked down the icy sidewalks in my one-and-a-half inch "heels" (heeled boots, but good enough), I used my Metro card, I got off on my stop, I went to the store, I picked out my lemons, I asked for them to be weighed, I found my parsley, and I went to that cash register and I paid for those items with my Russian debit card. And that was it.
I know this seems like a small victory, and it is. I have far bigger things I want to accomplish while I'm here, but this was a crucial and important first step. I'm proud. Today was a good day. I'm going to go squeeze those lemons into this recipe now. Have a good day, y'all.