Grandma Kay Creates an Adventure. Peter the Great and Night at the Ballet￼
March 1999. The early morning conversation at Veronica and Igor’s kitchen table was just beginning to break personal barriers. Common themes had just started to emerge–what pursuits were our children taking? What activities and careers did we cherish? What were our positions on current issues like education, healthcare, and the economy?
About halfway through our morning “getting-to-know-you” exchange, I recalled a moment when Veronica told us she kept having the same scary dream. She dreamed she stood the spot in the subway station where she’d stood for twenty-three years to catch the train that took her to her job at the Defense Department before she was let go. She couldn’t shake the memory. That spot in the train station had defined her life and passion for twenty-three years. Suddenly it was gone.
But almost as soon as Veronica poured our second cup of tea, Grandma Kay decided we’d had enough chit-chat. It was time for action. I watched her rise from the table. Kay Gaffney had decided it was time for action.
“Let’s go for a walk, Jane,” she said. “See where it takes us.”
We’re in Russia, for Pete’s sake! What do you mean “see where it takes us?” What if the KGB agent whose probably been following from the day we landed has questions? What if Veronica and Igor are spies? What if we get lost? I don’t know one word of Russian and neither do you.
I tried to talk sense. “Why not find a touristy place and have a cup of coffee?”
She looked at me as if I’d suggested we both get tattoos. “Let’s walk around, see what we see, then take the train somewhere.”
Not the train! We’ll be headed into the bowels of the earth! At the deepest section of the station, it is 240 feet deep. It will take us fifteen minutes to get to the trains. It will be dark and scary!
But before the trip to the bowels of the earth, we had to look at statues. We saw a statue of Peter the Great, a statue of Lenin, a statue of Stalin, a statue of Pasternak, and a statue of Catherine the Great. Oh, how I’d love some coffeecake. Coffeecake wasn’t on the menu. The subway served a dual purpose – train station and converted bomb shelter. Down we went.
It was dark, yes. It was scary, yes. The real scary part was we didn’t understand a word anyone spoke, and had no idea where we’d get off. Suddenly, mom wanted ice cream. Amazingly we got off and found an ice cream stand. Even more amazingly, we found our way home after a nice lady who spoke English helped us navigate our way back into the train tunnel.
I was never so happy to be in the Picasso kitchen with a cup of warm tea.
After the big Statue and Train adventure, we decided to treat Veronica and Igor to a night on the town. After several possibilities, our hosts decided they’d like a night at the ballet.
I took photos of our hosts, the balcony seats, and Mom walking with Veronica and Igor.
After the ballet, we went to a lovely hotel and had cake and ice cream. A perfect ending to a day filled with a scary dream, statues of historical importance, a train ride into a space that doubled as a bomb shelter, and finally – cake and ice cream.
I hadn’t an idea in the world what tomorrow might bring.