Oh my gosh. I don't even know where to begin with this. Sometimes when exciting things happen, I spend a considerable amount of time memorizing the details so I can write about it later. I began diary-keeping as a way to retain my memories and I prided myself on how accurately I could recall events. But now as I get older and my mind is more clouded with other thoughts, remembering all the details from important moments becomes more difficult, sadly.
But for this event, I will try to remember all that I can.
Yesterday I went to my first Russian lesson in the center and it was crazy. We began by reviewing the printed alphabet and the written alphabet (which is pretty different) and it was all just making my head spin. Unfortunately, cyrillic includes a lot of letters that look like English letters, but make completely different sounds (ex: P=R, X=H, etc.), so I have to retrain my mind to see new sounds in letters I have known my whole life. I've gotten somewhat used to it all since being here (just reading signs on the Metro and such, learning words and phrases here and there), but when my teacher introduced the written alphabet, it was like being slammed all over again (cursive M=T, err).
But it was good. I was really excited to work on my accent and learn new words and phrases. I'm really grateful for the chance to learn a new language.
Anyway, after my lesson, I met up with Ben and Grigor and Grigor invited us to his "sister" (cousin's) wedding which sounded both insane and totally fun. So after some intense Moscow traffic and even more intense car sickness (I am saying it here and now: for as long as I live in Moscow, I will never, ever get into a car again. Ever.), we arrived at a small banquet hall that reminded me of somewhere David Lynch might have filmed. Heart-shaped ballons drifted around a disco-ball covered room with omniscient music playing softly from unseen speakers. I felt strange and out-of-place. I hated the dress I was wearing, though I'm not sure if even had I been given the opportunity to change, I would have been able to fit in with the Armenian crowd.
But really, it was such an amazing experience and I'm so glad we went. Grigor's parents were so kind and welcoming and seeing another culture's wedding rituals was fascinating. There were so many different rituals, but then so many similarities. Toasts, love, friendship. Just different ways of expressing them. I loved being there so much and I was excited to practice my newly learned Russian out.
The little farmer's market we wandered through as we decided if we should crash an Armenian wedding or not.
Different members of the family took turns dancing. There were also moments during dinner when a dance would occur and someone would bring the bride a gift (mostly diamond jewelry) and everyone would watch and applaud.
This guy was the toast master and the reason I got so t i p s y.
This little boy was the best thing that ever happened to me. He sang a song for the bride and someone grabbed this little girl and sat her in a chair and he sang a song to here. It was perfect.
The bride and groom only danced once together (while we were there). She held out her arms and wedding guests came and put 1000 (~$33) and 5000 (~$170) ruble notes in her hands.
Oh, and then this was the best part. At the end, some very traditional Armenian dances were performed. Basically a man would begin dancing around a woman, moving his feet in a quick pattern (a little like an Irish gig) and the woman would do the same, but twirling. The music would speed up, then so would they. In the end, they would be moving so fast, it was dizzying to watch. I loved it!
I didn't catch the bouquet, but I caught a single rose. Does that count for anything?
I tried to post this video to Vine, but it was being sassy. So here's just a little, teeny video from the night!
Words don't even describe how grateful I am that Ben and I have had this chance to live abroad. I just don't think we could have ever experienced another culture exactly like this without actually living within it. There is just so much to be taken in, so many components of life that are unspoken and unavailable to tourists. I'm glad we are able to live in this other world because it helps make sense of ours. My appreciation for Russia, for America, for people all over the world just continues to grow.
I feel like my eyes have been bulging for four months now and I wouldn't change a thing.