is the book I chose to read while here. Called “the most influential Ukrainian book for the 15 years of independence”. It’s about an Ukrainian woman’s identity seen through the relationship she has with her abusive boyfriend and her country’s culture. It’s been 10 days almost and I barely read 30%. Usually in a frenzy, just like the book is written. Usually after 2am, when I get home, get my mint tea ready and make sparkles with every surface I touch.
I must have met more than 20 people in one week which is 90% more than in my previous destination. Travellers and locals alike. Some younger and some older, some memorable others not too much. Some I hanged with several times; we made the city our own playground. Some already left and dragged all their dreams away, like newlyweds drag cans on the back of their cars. Some want to leave but they can’t and others just take days as they come. A splash of life from shy pink to bold black and everything in between; colors and eyes light up 1 dollar fireworks, from the around-the-darker-corner all-necessities store.
I added last Saturday evening to my 2018 memorabilia. Nothing fancy. Just a hot masochist restaurant, where you get whipped, poured wax on or have a lady lick whipped cream off your bare chest, while your hands are handcuffed to the back of your chair. Good company, lots of laughs, ok wine, tasty fish, tight jeans and hungry arms. But the best part was way before this, when we all got out of the Wine fest and walked to Rynok square, with local festive music coming from several street artists, people laughing, dancing and partying in the streets, from small kids to old couples and pretty much everything and everyone in between. My spirits got lifted high up like a helium balloon and dragged back to the ground in a cheeky pirouette of foreign accents and velvety sweet Ukrainian cherry nalyvka.
On Sunday morning I rushed to the opera house to see Snow White (ballet). It was wonderful. The place is extremely beautiful, the play was cheerful, and the dancers fantastic. I feel I should mention how I never thought about the story before. So this girl is too beautiful for her own good, her step mother throws a party for her birthday, she meets the prince, gets taken away to the woods but not killed (yay), she loses it for a bit and starts talking to animals, which eventually take her to the dwarfs’ house. Now why are there 7 dwarfs in the woods? Are they not accepted in society? There’s a scene in the play where all dwarfs wake up in the morning and get ready for work by bathing in a small water container while Show White is supervising them. Uhmm… Anyway, she finally dies because she eats the apple (always the women who eat the apple), but then comes back to life, magically, after the prince attends her funeral and kisses her on the mouth. This prince has serious issues like procrastination and necrophilia. Snow White needs to grow some. The dwarfs remain innocent.
It is absolutely amazing to hear so many life stories, to see so many emotions, ways of being and ways of understanding the world, in such a short time span. I wonder to myself, why isn’t travel mandatory? We would all be much more open minded, tolerant, compassionate and patient. We would all feel a deeper affection for each other and so, far less alone in the world. What a cruelty to have to be subjected to the same limited environment every day and not have the possibility to grow and learn from the world instead. How will you ever overcome your fears amongst only a handful of people, who can determine your worth as an individual? We are all extremely resourceful despite our battles and we can all bond with and learn from each other independently of our background, appearance and education, as long as we feel love for the world, instead of fear, shame or prejudice.
Ukraine was an interesting and wonderful experiment for me, socially speaking. I wasn’t even aware how “exclusive” I behaved before this. I let go of any expectations of myself or the others, I asked nothing in return and shared all the time I had freely. No ego, no specific criteria and no restrictions. Only a serious amount of respect for myself and the ones surrounding me. I strongly recommend you try the same. If you can’t do it in awfully beautiful Lviv, it’s also safe to try it at home.
The book is now finished. Not sure if I recommended it. Insightful but numbing overall occurrence. The summer’s gone but I look very forward to autumn. The neighbour is practicing piano. My 17 days here are up. Definitely ready to move on, but immensely grateful to Lviv for all the fun I had and for keeping me happy, safe and sound awake.