Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Feeling charmed

I feel so blessed just to be alive, and for all the little things that work together to make life delightful. I started the day with SMS messages from friends in Texas, Vermont and southern China. Grateful to be thought of, I furthered the conversations and made breakfast before starting an online meeting with my friend Katya in Poland. Katya and I studied Proverbs 11 together for the second time, because both of us had been a little overwhelmed at the language in it the first time through. She’s improving her English vocabulary and I my Russian vocabulary by these exercises. Besides, the Proverbs are great conversation starters.

After my chat with Katya, I went down to the gym for a good workout. I achieved a couple of new personal bests today, and I listened to a very entertaining audiobook as I exercised. The audiobook is called Wanderlust, by Lauren Blakely, and it’s so funny I found myself rolling on the floor laughing. Well, to tell the truth I wasn’t rolling. And I already started on the floor, since I was doing sit-ups when it happened. But I did laugh a lot.

Next, I went for a massage at the spa where I go regularly. Knowing that I didn’t particularly favor the scent of the spa’s regular oil, my masseuse brought coconut oil from home. I liked it a lot better. And then halfway into the massage, I noticed that we weren’t listening to the same boring music they usually play at that spa, and I asked about it. Lyubov had brought different music for me too. She’s such a sweetheart, I signed up for two more weekly sessions before my departure on 1 May.

Afterwards, of course, I went for lunch at my favorite restaurant, located in the same building. I had with me a little box of chocolates I’d bought in Lithuania, a promised gift to the waitress who served me last week. Unfortunately, the restaurant was closed for a special event, but I asked if Marta were there so I could hand off the gift. She was not, but in the course of my finding that out, the administrator came to invite me to eat in the closed restaurant. I ordered the halibut, which my waitress said had just arrived fresh. It was great, of course. This (Oasis CafĂ©) is one of few places I know where I can reliably order fish in Belarus. And it came with fried mushrooms that were simply WOW. After one bite of mushroom, I decided I’d better take a picture.

As I ate, the other of the two administrators I know came to chat. I hadn’t seen Kristina in a couple of visits, and the last time I saw her she was urging me to get the seared tuna salad because she loves it so much, she said, she can barely talk about it without drooling. It’s one of my favorite salads there too, and I told her that if she’d sit down with me next time, I’ll order two of them and she can eat one with me. Surprisingly, she said she’d do that, but then she wasn’t around the last two visits. When she came to greet me today, I was just finishing that very salad, and I told her that if I’d known she were in the building I would have ordered two portions. She said she was too busy today anyway, what with that special event, but that she hadn’t forgotten.

I mentioned to my waitress that I’d already booked my next massage for Monday, so I’d see her then. Apparently she told Kristina, because as she saw me off at the door, Kristina said that she looked forward to seeing me on Monday. She added that it would be an excellent day to come because that would be the first day with the new menu. They’ve been promising me this new menu for weeks, so I expressed skepticism, but she assured me that this time nothing could go wrong, and it would indeed be a new beginning. I reminded her that she would be invited to eat salad with me on that day. She accepted, then realized that it was her day off, then contemplated the first day with the new menu and said she’d come in anyway. I said that if she were coming in specially for the new menu, then I’d like to treat her to an entire lunch, and she accepted. That’ll be fun.

So, after all that I started home. It had already been a perfect day and the sun was shining. I contemplated going to get my bike but decided to enjoy the day at a walking pace and headed up the riverside path. Out of nowhere, a young woman stopped me for advice. She wanted to know where were the most beautiful parts of Minsk. It sounded like a come-on to me, but as I tried to describe where I thought she should go, I realized that I couldn’t really explain it and I was walking that way anyway, so I invited her along. She said yes, but by her pace I realized that she was starting reluctantly. I stopped to assure her that I didn’t want anything from her, but I’m taking a walk anyway and she should feel free to send me off or veer off in her own direction whenever she wanted.

We ended up walking together for a little over an hour. She’s very nice, an actress from Moscow in town with a movie crew. She’s got a leading role in a war movie, and she said that the last couple of days had been very hard, as she had to cry most of the day. Today she seemed cheerful, and we had a nice walk. I doubt I’ll ever see her again, except perhaps on the screen, but our meeting capped off a day with amazing surprises and connections. Life is good, is it not?

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