The other day I went to a coffee shop to do some writing and I sat down at a table right across from the biggest man I have ever seen in my entire life. He was from Ghana and he was wearing a lot of clothes that I was pretty sure were traditional for Ghana. Or maybe they're what's "in" right now and I don't know that because I've stolen enough clothes from former roommates in my life that I pretty much never have to set foot inside of a clothing store anymore.
Seriously. I'm wearing a belt I stole from Daniel right now (surprise, Daniel!) and a shirt that . . . I don't know where I got it but I'm one million percent sure I didn't buy it. Also it has someone's initials written on the tag. T.M.?
After writing for a little while, I was interrupted by this man who asked whether he could borrow my phone "to make a really quick phone call" to his friend.
I hesitated writing it partly because I didn't think anybody would be all that interested in hearing what I had to say on the topic. I find it extremely interesting, of course. But I have a very special interest in what's happening between Russia and Ukraine, having lived in both countries and having spent a significant portion of my 20s in that part of the world.
I finally wrote yesterday, deciding that I had a unique voice on the topic that I should preserve on Stranger, even if it wouldn't end up being all that popular or interesting to you.
The last few months have been really strange for me. I've been watching the events in Ukraine unfold. I've been watching with anxiety and fear and sadness and some excitement. I've been full of conflicting emotions and real concerns.
There's a very special place in my heart for Ukraine. It's right next to the spot I carved out for Paul Simon and cheesecake. I was a church missionary for two years in Ukraine, from the summer of 2003 to the summer of 2005. I've been fortunate enough to stay close to my friends there over the years and have been able to visit Ukraine half a dozen times since 2009, the year I moved back to Eastern Europe to work in Moscow for a short while. Most recently, Daniel and I visited western Ukraine in 2012, right before leaving for Palau.
Those people are probably still talking about how much borsch that kid ate.
On Friday night I stopped by Jolyn's place because it's been too quiet recently and that always makes me nervous. When I got there she coughed at my face and told me she was dying. As you know, I can't stand it when people overreact or exaggerate, so it was difficult for me to be there.
I ventured off to the store to pick up some supplies, including, per her request, NyQuil.
I don't do NyQuil myself because I believe that the main ingredient to that stuff is POISON. I drank it once about five years ago and I still feel like my spirit hasn't quite returned to my body. I think they need to edit the bottle to say, "to help you fall into a half-sleep FOR TWO WEEKS."
But when Jolyn Metro wants something, I just make sure she gets it. Especially since Jolyn drops anything to help me any time I ask. That is, after hiding a severed head in my gym bag first.
Happy February's end, Strangers. We have had a very odd February in Salt Lake City. For several weeks it has been sunny and warm. I'm talking t-shirt weather. I noticed just yesterday that tulips have started busting through the ground. Typically February in SLC is miserable. I think I really need to go watch that documentary about the Polar Bears because right now I feel like there is no downside to climate change.
On Monday night my good friend Hannah came over to my place and graciously made me dinner. You guys. Anyone who wants to come over to my house and make me dinner is welcome to stay for as long as they want, no questions asked. I would let the Queen of Colors into my house if it said it was there to make me dinner. And this is even though I know for a fact that the Queen of Colors has never made dinner for anyone who has lived to tell the tale.
Salmonella poisoning, usually.
Hannah stayed for a bit and we were happy to catch up, having not seen one another for several weeks. And then I, in a very gentlemanly manner, walked her out. Well, I was only half a gentleman. Because I only walked her to the front door of my building and not to her car.
I've been having . . . well . . . issues for the past many weeks. With my body. With the inside of my body.
So, naturally, I decided to share this with anyone who would listen. Also, naturally, Bob and Cathie and Daniel were the only people who showed any interest.
Bob and Cathie typically start sending me an infinite amount of articles about how whatever ailment I've described to them most definitely means that I'm dehydrated and will die by the end of the week. Daniel typically asks me fifty or so intrusive questions and then changes the subject. Then I ask him why he asked all of those questions if he wasn't going to offer some kind of advice or diagnosis. And he usually just says some variation of, "Oh, I was just curious."
Leading up to Mexico, I decided to text him and give him a warning.
It was strange to see Daniel last weekend. For months and months our lives were one. They were totally one. And then, suddenly, they weren't anymore.
Daniel and I spent countless hours training for an Ironman together. We lived together. We backpacked across eastern Europe together. And then we moved to the quiet Pacific together.
We lived, alone, in an apartment on top of a tall hill overlooking a tiny island nation. It was there that we both grew up considerably. It was there that we both learned lessons in sacrifice, compromise, charity, patience, disappointment, hope, trust, and a number of other crucial things that I can't seem to wrap my vocabulary around just now.