Today marks the last day in the 40s in my countdown to Russia. It is also the second day that I can say "next month, I'm going to Russia." And I am desperately seeking the stop or the pause or the rewind. Something, anything to make the calendar slow down!
See, it's not that I'm not ready (I am!) or that I still have a ton of reading to do (I do!) or about 12 movies to watch (that too!) or that I'm nervous (you may be, but I'm not!) or that I don't want to go (not on your life!), or that I still have to shop for my toiletries, get a travel journal, get my international cell phone and a prescription for Cipro, you know, just in case. Yes, I have all of that left. It's just that I'm really, really enjoying the anticipation.
I could offer up any number of stunning analogies for you: reasons why I like to wait. God knows, this may just be the most awaited trip in history, certainly in my history. But there's something absolutely delicious about wondering and hoping and thinking about something and wondering and hoping and thinking about whether it will meet your expectations and fulfill your dreams. This morning I found myself staring out the train window wondering what it will be like to see the rainbow colored domes of St. Basil's Cathedral or the Church on the Spilled Blood, or to see if St. Issac's really is reminiscent of St. Peter's in Rome! I also find myself thinking about being in Red Square for the first time and wanting to pinch myself saying "you're in Red Square now, sister...RED SQUARE!" And wondering what my grandparents would think of this. Me, little Amy, in Red Square. And getting to see for myself: just how massive is this square? On his Russia episode, Anthony Bourdain called Red Square "the grandest public space in the world". Is he right? Will I be overwhelmed or underwhelmed? What does it sound like, how does it smell, can I take it all in at once? You see I've been to Vatican Square, I've been to San Marco Square...been there, done that. They were gorgeous but not overwhelming. Will I feel like I'm just in a tsar's living room like I did in front of the Doge's Palace?
Will I drink vodka? Will I eat well? Will I get around ok on my mediocre knowledge of Russian? All of this is milling about in my head. Do I really need to see three palaces of the Tsars as I have planned? Will anything I see in the Hermitage move me to tears? Can I take on the Hermitage in a day? Will I find all the artwork I want to see (damn, still have to pull THAT list together!)? What will places look like, how will the people be, how will my private tour will work? It's all that. All that and more. I don't think I've felt this level of excitement about a trip since my first: to see U2 in Dublin in 1993. Now, like then, I can't shut off my brain about it and somehow, I'm under the mistaken assumption that pushing pause or taking a break from the calendar will shut it off. But it won't. And tomorrow I'll be in the 30s in that countdown. With 3 1/2 books left to read, a dozen movies to watch and all sorts of errands to run. But it's coming. No pause button allowed.