Russian woman story
Brooklyn Bridge to Brighton Beach
This is one of Vica Vinogradova's stories about a girl who misses Russia, goes to Brighton Beach, while figuring out her relationship with current (Michael) and former (Andy) american boyfriends. Vica Vinogradova, originally from St. Petersburg, is a New Yorker of 12 years, and has been writing short stories and poetry for the last decade. She currently contributes to VOGUE RUSSIA and publishes poetry online, including Stihi.Ru. Her first childrens book, in collaboration with illustrator Alexander Zakharov , will be published in 2003 by Callaway Editions . Graduate of Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, she established and taught New Media course at Hunter College. After running her own branding and Web development company Ladno.com in Moscow for several years , she returned to New York and now represents various artists in New York City.
I am so excited to see signs in Russian, I almost get
run over by a cab. Brighton Beach and Brighton 2. B2. Haven't been here
in five years.
MosGosFilm Store on the corner in red and neon. They sell what I want: Russian music, Russian films, Russian jokes..I want "Tabor Uxodit v Nebo" (Gipsy encampment leaves into the sky), that movie about Gipsies, and horses, and freedom. They don't have it. But I find "Staryj Novyj God" (Old New Year) instead. Will be perfect for my Russian Old New Year's party. I see Alsu, and Nasyrov, and Linda. I want "Vorona" (Crow).
"Do you have Tabor uxodit v nebo?"
We are laughing our heads off.
"Is there another store that would have it?"
"Where do I go?.. to get the film that is.. "
"Want some vodka?" a heavy man in a hat offers
me a plastic cup matter-of-factedly.
Potato dranik is still warm. Jews are dancing and filming. Why are they here? Ah, yes, they are Jews from Eastern Europe. They speak Russian. They celebrate the last day of Hanukah.
"I am Vladimir, from L'vov. And also have never been
"So what's here?" I ask
He gives me his beeper number. I will beep when this story is complete, and when friends from St. Pete want to go to Brighton. He tells me where "St. Petersburg" is. I ask him not to follow me. This is "me, alone" day. He kisses me on the cheek. He liked me.. He is funny. Same here.
I buy shproty, and borjomi, and Korovka with Grilyazh.
The counter lady, dressed in Soviet looking shabby pink-gray coat, makes
me coffee and says she hasn't been to Manhattan in years. Something
scares her there now, even though she used to go "for walks"
with her friend all the time. Dirty coat. Kind eyes. Soft voice.
"St. Petersburg" in yellow and black. Finally. "Tabor Uxodit v nebo", "Osennij Marafon", "Slujebnyj Roman". New Victoria Tokareva. Small tear-page calendars like we used to have in the kitchen. "Orthodox, Astrological, Woman's, Family doctor, Culinary, Garden and Yard". Real Russkaya solyanka.
I pass shashlychnaya, and a cafe. Foggy smoke inside. Bright lights. Feels like home. Buy a white flower. My Mom's favorite. Will put it next to Alyona's red roses, my white tulips, and Michael's nothing. Call him. Answering machine. I say that I will have a Russian night with myself. He is not invited. I am sad. I buy tow round rum buns from a grandpa on the street. 2 for 1. Soft. Smells of childhood.
Andy calls. I can pick up the books. In an hour, I say. I am already on the train back to the Moon - Manhattan. Fall asleep. Read the little calendar. Tauruses are governed by Venus and influenced by Moon. We like love and people. Loyal. Sexual. Stubborn.
Change to 4 at the Atlantic. Four more stops and I am on Spring. Weird names slide by. All of a sudden I am by myself in an empty orange car. Doors closed. People look at me weird. I can't get out. We are going into the depot. Why? Did we pass Manhattan already? And why didn't they announce?
I run to the conductor. My shopping bags bang the sliding
I sit down and read poetry on the wall. "Confusion". About love. About me. I laugh. What a joke. Will never make it to Andy's to pick up the books. A poster says:
"Find out about V (new line in orange).
Black tall performer walks in, starts his funny routine.
Women across laugh. Mother and daughter.
Andy's apartment is dim as always. He looks handsome.
I look sexy. Tired. Plop on a leather couch. Beer. We are watching "Sex
and the City". My first episode ever. And it's called "TIME
AND PUNISHMENT". How appropriate. He gives me a ride to the subway
in his fancy Lexus, off to Man Ray.
Tears. They come later. When Michael hasn't called, and
I am by myself.
I am listening to Pugacheva. My heart is pounding and my tears are rolling. I am writing to the girls to save me. I can't lose people anymore. What happened this time? I can't even call them. I can't speak through tears.
Pugacheva sings ARLEKINO. that's me. a f ng clown.. very entertaining, indeed..
"A MNOYU ZAPOLNYAUT PERERYV". (they fill intermissions with me) how true.
I think I LOVE HIM.. and I thought he loved me back.
and of course he is gone..
"NO SLEZ MOIX NE VIDNO NIKOMU.. NU SHTO ZHE, ARLEKIN
YA VINDO NE PLOXOJ".. (But nobody sees my tears, I am probably
not such a bad clown after all)
skol'ko mojno verit', vzletat' na nepostijimuyu vysotu,
I uje ne xochetsa sobirat' oskolki.. (and I don't want to pick up the pieces)
ne xochu byt' akhmatovoj ili cvetaevoj.. xorosho pishut..
I might disappear for a while.. I am not doing well..
I think this is IT.
another one.. "million million million alyx roz"
(a million of red roses)
sorry I really don't know how to go on..
he calls as I am bursting with tears..
"nu shto?" (so what's up)
I can smile now. I am not obsessing.. I just can't stand
it when people disappear for no reason.
I am watching TABOR UXODIT V NEBO. Reading "Lust". I told my grandma that if she was a gipsy then my mother would have been a gipsy, and then I would have been a gipsy. I wanted steppe and horses and freedom. I cried for three hours. I was six.
Nothing changed. Still a gipsy. Still running around. Still cry. Still a little girl. Smoking. Like the cover of "Lust". Rum and coke.
Falling asleep to Alsu. "My s toboy znakomy dve nededi.. Shto je ty so mnoi delaesh, Vesna"? (we've known each other for two weeks. What are you doing with me, Spring?)
12/16/2001, New York
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