Moscow and onwards
Got into Moscow airport, which name I have forgotten, and immediately tumbled head-first into a group of Italian musicians off a flight from Rome. We chilled in the passport control line for an hour, and I can say indeed it was a blessed relief to find people that actually spoke a language I understood. They were off to play a tour of world music concerts in Moscow, St. Pete's, Yekaterinburg and some other cities that I have now forgotten. Some sort of Italian-Russian cultural exchange.
Got my big pig of a bag (it's large, it's blue, and it tends to weigh around 70 pounds... to my credit, I'll be living out of it until September) and pushed my way out through Customs. Looked around the crowd frantically for Paul, who suddenly loomed up at me, hardcore shirt and all, laughing and covering me with hugs.
Paul and I went to high school together and can't really remember how we became friends. We believe it may be through this girl in my dorm, Lolly (don't ask), but it may have something to do with the fact that we were both people who rowed, yet weren't preppy. Dear lord! We've had our ups and downs, including my blocking him on AIM for six months and screening his phone calls when he was going through some sort of religious experience and I got sick of listening to it for hours every night, but somehow we're still talking three years after graduation. Paul has been living in Yaroslavl all year, methodically sleeping his way through the city and getting drunk, but also getting in touch with himself (or so he calls it... heh) and learning to speak Russian like a true badass.
We bopped through Moscow in a few hours, deciding against snatching a glimpse of Red Square because I'll be back, and because the bag was there (thank GOD he decided to be a gentleman and drag it), and then went straight to the train station and had dinner in a cute little place with the requisite casino underneath it. Halfway through our meal, a bellydancer appears, shaking her thing, and Paul sagely remarks "Yep... Moscow's Babylon, all right," eyes planted on the gyrating stomach.
We race down the track to barely make our train and drag the pig to our seats. A toothless gentleman across the way addresses Paul, asking if I'm his girlfriend, apparently shocked by the idea of a guy and a girl travelling together without any sort of official status. Vodka is gotten from the little shop down the passageway and toasts are given. I'm drinking mixed drinks because I'm oh so very tired, but Paulie's pouring his own shots and I laugh as they grow exponentially bigger. Suddenly his eyes POP open and he's trashed, spilling his heart about his ex girlfriend and love and life (this happens normally, but not to this slurred extent) and I finally can't take the jet lag anymore and I slide into sleep.
We get to Yaroslavl at two am. More of that for later-- I have to be a good girlfriend and email my boy.