Home again, in St. Petersburg. I did not get sick on the plane, unless you count getting a little teary-eyed watching a really cheesy romantic comedy, which surely must count as some kind of illness.

My parting American Moment was the United Airlines ticket agent who checked me in for my flight:

Agent: Where are you going today?
Me: Frankfurt to St. Petersburg.
Agent: Oooh, St. Petersburg. Is it winter there now?
Me: No.
Agent: I thought they had opposite seasons from us.
Me: Um, it’s in the northern hemisphere.
Agent (looking thoughtful, in the sort of way one does when one knows one has said something stupid but doesn’t understand why): Oh yeah, I guess that’s right.

It feels like my two and a half weeks in the US were much longer somehow. I’m noticing things about St. Petersburg to which I thought I was long accustomed — certain smells (not all bad!), the way people look, etc. But in other ways, it’s just normality. I like St. Petersburg’s metro better than Washington’s and it was nice to get on it and go to work yesterday morning.

Yes, back to work at the kindergarten. The kids come back on September 1st, so the teachers and other staff are cleaning and organizing our classrooms. Yesterday I was cleaning a window when one of the staff asked me whether I cleaned windows at home. At first I thought she was dissing on my cleaning job, but then I realized she thought that as an American I’d never had to do any dirty work. I assured her that I had.

It’s good to be starting a new year at the kindergarten. Last year I started in the middle, and never got to know most of the staff and teachers other than the ones I was working with in the same classroom. Now we get to be sort of leisurely and eat lunch together and stuff. It’s fun getting to know people like Johannes, a teacher originally from South Africa, who speaks really great Russlish, saying things like “Well, and how?”, a directly translated phrase which means “How’s it going?”