These stories will seem like they are about just trying to have fun, but if you think about it a little more you will see that it’s actually a story about making friends with foreigners, making a good impression about your people on them, and then not giving them any contact information. So think deeper.
Let us begin with a birthday night that started out normal. After a fantastic game of basketball that took me back to playing street ball with sketchy characters in my hometown, we stopped at a bar. Needed to hydrate. After overhearing our discussions of grammar and Russian literature, we were approached by some Russians. After a few introductions, we got past the awkward “Why are you here” “Russian? What?” and “Why would anyone come to Narva?” questions and then got into the hard hitter. Ukraine. This discussion typically ends up going in two different directions. But this was a Tuesday, so it went in the weird one. The debate went well and it was mostly in Russian. Heated words were exchanged but in the end it all came down to a phrase I have heard many times in Narva.
“I don’t agree with your government, but I love you guys and I don’t want a war!”
We got diplomatic. Later that night we made lasting friendships until we left them that night and never saw them again. Except for Katya. Kiril I promise I wasn’t looking at your girl. Show up to class, we all ace our verbs of motion quiz.
Diplomacy round 2 happened the next Friday. After immersing ourselves in Narva’s park bench culture, a few buddies and I decided to hit up the 24 hour kiosk in the square. We were approached again. I believe it’s our bubbly attitudes or maybe we were speaking English loudly. But we were approached with “You are Americans!” Well obviously, we ooze freedom. We were then approached by around 3 more. Okay, I can handle this, they seems pretty nice. Then around 4 more. Situation is getting strange. Eventually there are 15 of us in total. Situation is getting AWESOME. Push up competitions. All Americans win. Diplomatic talks on Ukraine and who is giving weapons to who. Nobody wins. Words are exchanged, hugs are given, everything is fine again. My favorite phrase is spoken again, just jumbled up.
“There won’t be a war, we love you guys!”
One man throws a bottle at Russia to prove how serious he is about our friendship. We go to Lux, apparently not the best place to be, all the Russians leave suddenly. Friendship ruined. I trusted you Dmitri. See Katya. All Americans leave. I want to go back. Haris slaps me. Proceed to walk maybe 3 miles back from Lux.
Diplomacy round 3. Hang out with some cool people at the dorms. I had a craving to go to the beach at night and camp out. So we go to the beach. Freestyle rapping, swimming, wrestling, gymnastics. Everything was great and it was cold so we came back. We get back and I’m craving a 24 hour diplomatic kiosk burger. We are overheard. It’s another pair of great Russians! We speak in Russian much better than earlier encounters in the Summer. I’m learning Russian! Russian traditions are had of course and we discuss international relations. Much calmer than usual. We have a great conversation and hit it off well. Danger. Very intoxicated Russian appears. Our new friends ask him if he would like to take part with “International Relations” and asks if he is a Russian, German, or something. The man has some choice words and leaves. My other favorite phrase appears.
“Germans, Russians, Americans, whoever. They’re all people.”
Haris doesn’t slap me this night. Go home feeling pretty cool. I might miss Narva some day.
By Jon Edwards