The city overwhelms me very quickly. My first full day here, and I'm already on the verge of tears. Why? No reason. My cousin called and wanted to change his plans from seeing me today to seeing me some time during the week, and I couldn't explain to him on the phone why it offended and upset me. Things here move too fast and too slow for me at the same time. Cell phone conversations definitely move too fast: he hung up before I was able to think, I can't do this. Cars move much too fast. But dinners last forever, especially long country house dinners with all the family and guests at the table talking about completely random things. Tonight, the guests were two Russian-Armenian brothers, an artist and a wholesale reseller, who got to hear my parents' story about their 2 week trip to Armenia at the end of August, and who were telling stories about surviving the winter in Yerevan in 1991-92 without gas or electricity, and who were also telling stories about buying a 30-ft used boat and trying to outfit it with a used motor, and who were also philosophizing about the invention of vaccination with the use of human subjects (children), and who were eating chicken again and drinking cups after cups after cups of tea. These evenings are wonderful, and they last for so long that it's very important to stop thinking, what's next, when's the dessert, when's the singing part, when do they go home, when do we drive back to the city, when do we go to sleep. Meeting new people, we stay till they stay, and if it's 12:30 am when we finally pack up the remnants of smoked salmon and French stinky cheeses and chocolate treats and fruit tarts and go home, then that's how it's going to be and we'll get home at 1 am and then hopefully go to bed soon afterward.
There are many things to get used to again, the gray sky always on the verge of raining, how everybody smokes and doesn't shake hands until I give them my hand first, the constant admonishments I get from my family for wearing only one sweater instead of five, the way Russian language feels in my mouth at the end of the day. Otherwise, I fall into my this life so completely that in a week or two it will be impossible to imagine that another life does exist, that San Francisco is not just a myth, a set of words that I've constructed. It's already hard to believe that just yesterday Dave and I were leaving Vienna, and all I have to go by is Dave's latest blog post about it: http://dave-grenetz.blogspot.com/2009/10/102-vienna-doesnt-disappoint-except.html. This is not because the world rotates around me, but because this particular world feels like a different universe. In less than 24 hours, I have a different routine for doing anything: washing up before going to bed instead of in the morning like I do in San Francisco, drinking tea instead of coffee, eating massive quantities of smoked fish and boiled chicken, going to bed late and getting up hopefully not too late, sitting in the back seat of my parents' car, always being on alert for parents waking up and discovering that I'm still awake. And I really shouldn't be awake right now.