I made them a short video to thank them for being such great students and in this video, I included a picture of them from the first year that I started teaching. They were so young and silly and now they're older and more mature (and much taller). I am so glad that I could witness their growth and be a small part of their lives here in Ukraine.
So yes, it was a good day for sleeves, but particularly the sleeves attached to the sweater which I have hand washed, laid on heaters, and worn for two years. I think they were waiting for this moment, preparing and stretching so they could fit far enough over my hands to wipe my eyes from the hardest kind of tears. Is life always this bittersweet?
I know I'll come back to Ukraine. Our heartstrings will forever be entangled. I know it's not my native country, but it has been my home for two years, and a good one, too. I have gotten used to it. I have learned its customs, I have drunk its conyak, prepared and eaten its varenyky, corrected its lack of article grammar mistakes, ridden on its busses, slept (or laid awake on) its night trains, nodded my head through confusing Russian conversations, eaten whatever anyone wanted me to eat, sang Ukrainian harmonies with my teachers in the forest, and found so many dear friends. It has all become a part of me, just like all of the other homes I've found over the years. Homes may not always be tangible, but I have marked their places on my map so I will never be lost.
|Don't be fooled. I rolled up my long sleeves and quit being a baby to take this photo...|