1. Introduction
  2. The Diary (22 June 1994 - 13 July 1994)
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4 July 1994 and 5 July 1994

This is the first 4th of July I've ever spent outside of America. I almost forgot what day it was, but Olga reminded me!

I went to the Russian Museum with Olga's friend's son (Max?). He has to have been the most polite teenage boy I have ever met in my life. I didn't know it was possible for a human being to actually be that polite! He would open doors for me and help me climb out of the car. It was quite weird, I must say. His friend also came, but for the life of me I can't remember his name.20

The Russian Museum is full of paintings and some sculpture. Only a few of the paintings, I thought, were really worth looking at. The three best (Olga's favorites also) are of the ocean. One shows the moonlight reflecting off the peaks of the waves. The second is of a ship caught in a violent storm, and the last is the morning after the storm, with a hazy red sunrise. At least, I assume it's morning-- it could be a sunset.

We also went to the Kazan Cathedral (the one where we ate ice cream after St Isaac's), which had a large display of religious artifacts, most of which had some purpose unknown to me. I suppose I could have asked, but I didn't think of it, and I wasn't really curious.

Max is 16, like me, and likes the Beatles and other 60's music. He speaks English well; he's been studying it for four years. I didn't learn much about his friend. We played tennis at that park, remember, the one I got to know so well? Anyway, Max's dad, Sasha, is a pro player, even if he is letting himself go a bit. I played with him and it was quite fun.21

Today Olga and Melanie and I went with Vlat and Katia to the zoological museum in St Pete. Olga said, "this is our zoo." There was just about every kind of animal imaginable there, mounted and stuffed. It was kind of grotesque until you stopped thinking that all of this had once been alive. The best part was a wildlife photography exhibition upstairs. The pictures looked like they came out of National Geographic. I wished I could have looked at them longer.

Katia (she spells her name Kate) has this preoccupation with pleasing and entertaining Melanie. The harder she tries, it seems, the more Melanie pushes her away and says "No!" Poor Kate.

On the radio, I heard snatches of a song that I remember from several years ago. I can't remember the name. I wish I could find it again. It's a good song.22

20 I can't shake the suspicion that I was kind of Max's date. I was very awkward. Max, if you are reading this and I spelled your name right, gosh I'm sorry. You were very polite.

21 Sasha would keep asking me if I'd taken tennis lessons. I had just played tennis for PE a few times, but I liked it a lot. I also don't know what possessed me to add in that "letting himself go a bit" call. I was a rather snarky young thing!

22 It was "Luka" by Suzanne Vega.

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