I meet Russians at Swimming Pools

Earlier this year, I went out to the local athletic club and went swimming. I thought it would be fitting as it was the first day of summer and the hottest day of the year here on Whidbey Island.

I was in the sauna pool enjoying my newfound freedom as a high school graduate, but my happiness was a simple, thoughtful happiness. Thinking about the world is something I do a lot, like Hamlet of Denmark.

So I was thinking, and along comes an elder aged woman with three little children and her husband. I glanced at them and then went back to the act of just leaning against the side with my eyes closed. The kids went out to play in the pool, and the husband went to grab a few minutes in the steam room.

I looked back up again and noticed that the older woman and I were the only people in the sauna. She was staring far off into the skylight and beyond.

The little girl came bouncing over to talk to me. “Hi, I’m on my summer break,” she said.

“Me too,” I said.

“This is my favorite part of the year. I get to go swimming and do fun stuff.” She was very young, and quite cute.

“Yeah I like summer the best too,” I said.

“The best part is coming to America. It’s so cold back in Russia,” she said in the same optimistic excited attitude as before.

“You’re from Russia?” I asked. Her accent sounded more Latin American than Russian.

The older woman, smiling, spoke as if she had been apart of the conversation the entire time. “No, but mommy is. Daddy and little (censored) here are from Texas. She’s lived in Russia since she was two though.”

“I’m four!” The little girl said.

“Really? Do you have duel citizenship?” I asked both of them.

“No, I find it hard to commit to something like that. We just bought a place out in Maine and we are going to stay, but I find it hard to keep up with American politics. It is something I never really have trusted.”

“Yeah, I can understand that,” I said.

“So, do you live on the Island?” The old woman asked me.

“Yeup, I was born and raised here,” was my response.

A long pause. I leaned back and thought about life again.

The old woman got up, and as she was leaving, I noticed a large tattoo on her neck.

Thinking back upon that moment, I wonder why I didn’t ask her more about her home country or the tattoo on her neck, or how she was related to the young girl. She seemed to be too old to be the mother, but I will never know. She left and I will always wonder about her.

Whenever I meet someone new, I’ll probably always think of the Old Woman From Russia, and why I didn’t ask more.

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