1. Introduction
  2. The Diary (22 June 1994 - 13 July 1994)
  3. First Entry


Fifteen years old and shy, shy, a girl went out to Anacapa Island, part of Channel Islands National Park in southern California where her dad had worked for several years. He used to be the maintenance mechanic on the island, living out there for ten days at a time and coming home for four, and the girl often undertook the 20 mile boat ride out to the island to see him and wander the quarter square mile of volcanic rock. Now her dad had a new job that didn't keep him out on the island so much, and a new person was maintenance mechanic, cleaning out the outhouses for the campground.

With Tree, the new mechanic, some other new people came in tow onto the isolated locale. One of them was Olga, an elegant blonde with a charming round face and an obvious accent. Little Melanie was about four years old, and always hovering near her mom, her vocabulary split evenly and thoughtlessly between English and Russian.

I spent a good amount of time talking with Olga on that small little windswept rock. I spent time looking after Melanie when Olga needed a break to do other things. But even still, I was surprised when Olga unjokingly said, "You should come visit me for a summer." It was only a scant few years earlier that the USSR had officially dissolved. Russia was still enough of a mysterious place for a young American girl who had grown up at the tail end of the Cold War. And so it was that a year later I boarded an airplane that would take me on my first trans-atlantic flight, all alone.

Some eight years after my first trip off the North American continent, I found myself thinking back. On the threshold of a new adventure, my move to Australia, I unconsciously began to remember one of the first experiences that inspired me to live overseas. I read through my diary, surprised at how distant that girl and some of her observations were; surprised at how vivid, too, my recollection of hot, impossibly long July days in Pushkin, and my swims in the pond in the Alexander park.

I did decide to make a few small edits to the contents of my diary, but for the most part, my thoughts, words, and sketches are intact. Added to it in annotation form are some of my reflections that sprang to mind when I read back through this diary. The following are the results.

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