Tomiken Von Kendra from Fairfax Station, Virgina
Natalia Rudenko from Krivoi Rog, Ukraine
After a good nights rest, the next day, the included buffet brunch had rich tasting hot coffee, with the food refreshed every 1/2 hr, I put on my jogging outfit. I opted for a USA t-shirt with old glory blazoned on the front,($4. (3 for $10.) from a DC street vendor), and I recommend wearing logo micro fiber biker shorts, lest the locals think one is escaping from a lunatic asylum and BLACK athletic shoes, fanny pack.
Late afternoon Natalya picks me up and we taxi to Mrs. Katerinas. I bring my laptop which is full of pictures. Its 14 February, valentines day but not to worry, I bought a special present prior to my trip, a 'coffee' cup with hearts with a red fuzzy soft stuffed toy ‘cupid’ bear inside and every time she will use the cup for her chai tea, it should remind her of me. She gave me a set of slippers and socks and a Ukrainian speaking red 'squeeze bunny" with hearts on it along with jars containing all types of food for late night snacks if I get hungry in the hotel room.
The next day, it is sightseeing (Ukrainian women are very proud of their towns,. I see the statues, monuments, big church, rivers, the new stores, the waterfall, the ‘lock bridge’ which I brought a lo9ck for thinking it was for ‘engaged’ people but I will have to wait as it is for married people), etc. Then dinner at Mrs. Katerinas (food, food and more food!) and she invites her neighbor who recently returned from NYC. Good conversation all around.
Monday, the 16th prior to the evening train back to Kiev/Kyiv\fs, Natalya negotiates a reduced rate for 1/2 day and I had thought the discussion was a bit heated, but it all was just part of some standard interaction if there is a difference in opinion as I have seen this in various other situations both this trip and last.
We taxi to the train station and once secured in our compartment, Denis says: follow me and as I round the corner to the exit stairs, there is Nataly's entire family standing on the ramp! Her sister, hands me a bag of presents (I know NOT to open them in front of them and I give her a big hug and 3 cheek kisses (left, right left), hug and 3 cheek kisses to her mother, a STRONG hug from her father and he kisses me on the cheek and I kiss him back on his cheek a hug and 3 cheek kisses for her niece. WOW! What a farewell!
Once the train pulled out of the station, I open the gifts. A porcelain family of birds, Papa, Mama (Anatolie, Nadzeda, and 4 little ones (Luda, Natalya, Denis and Lirlra). Also, to books about Ukraine and Ukrainian culture. I am deeply touched.
Later, we eat chicken and pizza (homemade of course, Natalya is a fabulous cook) and afterward, I pull out the map and book I bad bought when I was jogging, about Kryvyi Rih with the book being in both Ukrainian and English and Natalya and I look through it prior to retiring. Natalya falls asleep while we hold hands across the aisle. Me as always, awake almost through the night and after arrive in Kyiv at 05:37, this time there is a trace of snow on the ground. Agency, Alla has a car and driver waiting to drive us to the apartment and Denis taxis back to his University.
Our last week together and again way too much to write about in detail now, however, I feel I should note that our first day back, we both had of a bit of moodiness, kind of like how one feels a lull after a momentous event. I called Victoria and asked if she was free to join us for dinner that evening. This was exactly what was needed and we dined in a restaurant with a tropical motif. Then a few days later, we planned to go to the cinema for a movie at 5PM. Natalia likes a lot of preparation time and at 10 min. to 5, I point to the clock and she nods and using my Russian/English dictionary I say "Cinema move start" equals "next Cinema movie" and she nods again. I return to my laptop and continue my transfer of pictures and at %:05, we leave and walk to the cinema at 5:20. I asked, "movie started?". Da was the reply then I turned to Natalya and said "next movie", and Natalya became confused so we called Mrs. Katerina and I said I don't like going to movies late so we can shop for CDs and go to the Internet Café till the next one starts And That Natalya was aware of my preference. HHHHHMMMMM! Our first little spat! As we walked down the street she didn't take my arm so I sort of pinched at her arm a bit and she stopped, smiled and off we went, arm and arm.
Again the second week was much like the first, shopping each day (picture uk nat kiev st1)(both of us exercising while watching MTV/VH1 more meetings with my police group, with Colonel Boris of the Kiev/Kyiv section International Police Association (I am a member of the USA section), arraigning for a tour of their 'Strike Team' (read S.W.A.T) facility, their HQ and another at the uniform fabrication faculty where uniforms of all Ukrainian police are manufactured. This was of high interest to Nataliya since she is a clothing designer and they allowed her to 'model' a generals coat and hat (picture uk nat 34a). She took note of the excellent fabrics and all of the hand stitching that is required for many of the dress uniforms. Later a courtesy call to the US Customs and Immigration attaché at the US Embassy.
The K-1 fiancé visa process will be step by step from here on.
Saturday, Colonel Boris has invited us to his home and we metro and trolley car to his neighborhood. He greets us at the stop in Military uniform. Our gifts, I bring flowers and candy. Another full meal with many police stories (I still have some left to tell) and then afterward, taxi to Agency Alla's business office to skype video internet conference with Natashsha Spivack, agency owner, Washington DC and personal friend. I exchange wonderful stories and she says she hasn't seen me this happy, ever! After settling my account and Natalya is given a to do list and documents that she will need to fill out, we taxi back to the apartment and shop for the next days meal (Local produce and fresh fish and meat).
Sunday, 22 February (anniversary of Krivoy Rog Ukraine Freedom Day of the Great Patriotic War) our last day together, we spend lazy day, just getting out for a walk and then packing. That evening, I put Natalya on the train to Kryvyi Rih and like her family did for us, wait on the platform until the train pulls out of the station. I stood there about 15 minutes as we waved, winked, nodded,,, and I could see she was crying & I tried to make a happy face but she nodded nyet and just wiped her tears. About 10 min. into the wait, she tried to indicate that I should go and get warm but it was obvious I was going to stand there no matter how long it took. As the train started to move I reached up and pressed my hand on the outer glass and she did the same on the inner glass and I moved with the train with my hand 'held with hers (gesture wise) for about ten steps and off it went, into the distance. Back at the apartment, its so quiet, and cold, I miss her already. I almost imagine her in the kitchen cooking or dancing in front of the tv. I pack for my flight the next morning. Again, not very much sleep as I was running on adrenaline and par for the course, no sleep on the plane.
The 21 hour trip (door to door) gave me time for reflection. She defiantly has her preferences, cleanliness, good home cooked food, fashion (she put on makeup just to go to the store), moods and of course I have mine.
With us being so close, virtually 24/7, differences did arise and we worked through them as we will work together as inevitable differences will always arise and it is our choice to always work through them, together :)
Home and exhausted, at 11PM. A bit of sleep and at 9AM Tuesday, I noticed Natasha Spivack and Alla were on Skype so I checked in with them and asked Alla to call Natalya and tell her I was home safe and sound and gave a full report to Natashsa. I was a happy camper (picture uk tk1). Then I started this email to Natalya that I was VERY, VERY (Ochyen) happy. Let me tell you, it is wonderful to have someone to report that to.
Im starting to fall in love and it feels SO GOOD!!! I am on my way to a new life and I hope I don't get cold feet and revert back to being on my own. I had been essentially by myself for almost 10 years and Natalya for 20 so it will take some adjustment for both of us. As the old saying goes: be careful what you wish for, thou withes might com true.....
Best to all,