Thirteen years ago today, Bill and I were in Svalyava, Ukraine, straining Volodomyra’s patient hospitality, with just four days left before our court date that finalized Adam’s membership in our family. Twelve years ago this week, we were making the final preparations to return to Ukraine to find Zachary. Both trips started in July. We spent most of both Augusts there.
This week, Adam and Zachary and I are leerily eyeing the one suitcase each we plan to pack for our year-long adventure. I hope we get over the “how-in-the-world?” stage soon. We’re not going to have long to make wardrobe choices. Fashion-conscious Adam is most affected. On the other hand, since Zachary is growing out of his wardrobe daily, so a shape-shifting closet is no surprise. I’m glad that Bill is in charge of bringing winter coats later this fall so that we’ll have a bit of room for other staples.
Books are my big issue! An e-reader is looking good right now! What will I need for my research? What will I need for my teaching? What will I leave to the schools for future students?
The first books to make the cut are the Ukrainian language and history books. They will probably be the last ones we pack, because we’ll be cramming up to the very end for our tests. And re-testing daily.
The first book I finished in my philosophical preparation for the trip is Oksana Zabuzhko’s (1996/2011) Fieldwork in Ukrainian sex (trans. Halyna Hryn). This book is not a how-to manual (so I may actually let Adam read it.) It is an allegory of Ukraine’s relationship with the multiple ethnicities within its borders, as well as with Russia and the Russian-language. Zabuzhko has provided me with insights that I have added to my 13- and 12- year-old experiences to answer some questions and generate others. It describes a Ukraine of the nineties that reflects the logics I learned in the Julys and Augusts of 1998 and 1999. My first September in Ukraine may begin to reveal what has changed in the new L’viv and what lingers beneath the surface.