Washing the Dust Away

Trolley on the cobblestone streets of Chernivtsi in Ukraine

I went to put on my shoes yesterday morning before heading to the airport and a cloud of dust puffed out as I untied the laces. At first I was annoyed. I dealt with so much dust and dirt since my arrival in Ukraine.

Every time I got home to the apartment in Kiev I had to wash my feet before getting into bed. An extra step to take when all I wanted to do was rest after the amount of walking we did there. My initial thought was, I can’t wait to wash my shoes when I get home. But as I sat there contemplating the thought saddened me. That dirt was filled with so many memories. It could have come from the streets of Kiev where I walked and watched my relationships with Vitaliy’s sisters blossom with every step. It could have been dirt from Vitaliy’s grandparents farm in the village where I got to hear and see stories about my husband spending his summers picking berries and fetching water from the well. I could have also picked the dirt up in Chernivtsi, the city where Vitaliy grew up and where I discovered how he came to be the man he is today.

To wash the dust from these shoes feels like I’ll be washing away memories that I hold so dear. Dirt never sounded so important to me, especially dirt from Ukraine. I will remember the dust and dirt, the sweat and the mosquito bites. Like all discomforts in life, if you look closely enough, they likely carry with them memories that you never want to forget.

This trolleybus in Chernivtsi is one of the few models remaining that dates all the way back to the 1960’s.