I wandered the city of 3 or 4 million people for a couple of hours, stopping in at an internet cafe for a moment to let my friends and family at home know that I had made it.

It was Kyiv Ukraine in 2010, before I had a smartphone and before wifi was ubiquitous. My plane had landed an hour or two before this. From the airport I had boarded an old marshrutka van that had a sign on the front, telling me that it was destined for the train station, which was in the city center.

The marshrutka ride lasted twice as long as it should have because Kyiv traffic is typical for a city of its size. The van was full. Several people had to stand in the aisle, holding onto the straps connected to the sides of the van. It was a hot day and there was no working air conditioner, and the two or three elderly ladies on board wouldn't allow the rest of us to open any of the windows.

There's an old Ukrainian belief that an open window on a moving vehicle will cause passengers to get sick. Having tried many times during the two years that I lived in Ukraine from 2003 to 2005 to talk elderly women out of this belief, I have learned that this isn't an argument worth having.

So we sweated, as we crawled through the big city traffic toward the train station.

When we arrived, I made my way through the closest metro station, rode a few stops, and eventually reemerged in the main city square--the one that hadn't yet been destroyed by the 2014 riots.

I wandered for a couple of hours, stopping briefly at that internet cafe. I purchased some bread from a street vendor and ate in just a few bites.

It had been about 48 hours since I had really slept. The itinerary to Ukraine involved multiple layovers in multiple countries and I could never really sleep on planes. Especially during that time. I was a third-year law student and an insomniac throughout that phase of my life.

I was supposed to be attending classes for my first week of my last year of law school instead of wandering around Kyiv, sleep-deprived and hungry. But my friend was getting married and she had asked me to come. I was a poor student, working two jobs to avoid as much student debt as possible and so I assumed that there was no way I could go, even if I wanted to.

My parents told me they wanted to buy my plane ticket. I didn't ask them to do this. I would have never asked them to do this. But they were excited to make the offer and so I accepted it. I hope I thanked them enough.

I traveled alone. An old friend of mine had told me just before I left for the trip that she was going to be in Ukraine then as well. She was also a poor student. One who had a guy kindly offer to buy her ticket through Delta Skymiles so she could attend the wedding as well.

This friend and I arranged to meet in Kyiv and the two of us had found cheap or free accommodations for the six days we would be there. I was supposed to meet this friend later that afternoon, after wandering the city for several hours. Her flight arrived 8 hours after mine.

We had chosen a spot we both knew well as our meeting point. It was on a relatively-quiet side street, just off of the main square.

Having difficulty keeping my eyes open, I eventually walked to this place, 20 minutes earlier than our designated meeting time.

It was a sunny day, but the narrow streets and tall buildings shaded every sidewalk.

There were no benches near our meeting place, so I sat on the ground, with my back against a several-centuries-old building. It felt strange to do this, but I was tired.

People walked by, looking down at me in either mild disappointment or confusion.

It's not normal to sit on the ground in Ukraine.

Especially if the ground is cold.

The elderly women, the same ones that wouldn't let me open a marshrutka window, believe that sitting on a cold ground makes you infertile. I had been told this repeatedly while I lived in Ukraine.

Having tried many times to talk elderly women out of this belief, I have learned that this isn't an argument worth having.

And to be honest, to this day, any time I sit on the ground, about 4% of me is worried that I might become infertile.

I watched the mildly disappointed or confused people walk by, hugging my small backpack to my body until finally dozing off into a nap.

This was impressive, because I was an insomniac.

I dreamed.

I dreamed that it was winter and I was trying to stay warm.

I dreamed that I was running away from a marshrutka that was trying to run over me.

I dreamed that I was wandering a city of 3 or 4 million people, looking for an internet cafe.

Then I felt a hand shake my right shoulder. I opened my eyes and saw a woman hovering over me.

She was in her 40s. Beautiful, with nearly platinum hair. She was wearing four-inch stilettos and a well-fitted jacket, which seemed odd to me because it was a warm day.

She asked me in acerbic Ukrainian why I was sitting on the ground. I told her I was tired. I was groggy when I said it, and probably not sure yet whether this conversation was actually happening.

She asked me why I didn't go home if I was so tired. I told her that home was thousands of miles away and that I was waiting in that spot to meet a friend, one who seemed to be very late by this point.

She looked mildly disappointed and confused as she walked away.

I fell asleep again.

I dreamed.

I don't know about what. But I dreamed again, and I dreamed for some time, until opening my eyes.

I was still groggy and everything looked a little blurry to me.

I watched the people walking by from my napping spot in this city of 3 or 4 million.

The sounds of cars bumping along on cobblestone roads filled the space. I could smell garlic and dill coming from a nearby cafe.

I tried to stay awake this time.

A pigeon landed a few feet in front of me and began picking at a piece of bread that someone had dropped. It felt my gaze and looked at my groggy eyes.

I hugged my small backpack a little tighter, and I thought, "this is strange."

~It Just Gets Stranger