We had a little trek today that was oh, so, typically Moldovan. We went to evening church today for an ‘international’ service – basically, church in English with American-style Sunday School. Living on the other side of town, and traveling with 3 small kids, we took a trolleybus – the method of transport for the ‘working class,’ students, the elderly – basically for those whose wallets are challenged.
Now, one of the things about trolleys is that they don’t always come very often and when they do, you better be ready. So hubbs had Bean and Bruiser up the street from me on our way to the trolley bus stop, which was maybe half a kilometer away. As I hung back with Little Man trying to hurry him along, I looked up only to see trolley #23 coming our way. So, with me in my heels and skirt and Little Man doing his best hunched over slow motion run, I knew we weren’t going to make it at that pace. I swept my 36 pound toddler up into my arms and sprinted the whole half kilometer over uneven sidewalk – it might as well have been cobbled – in my 2″ heels. The trolley won, but at least the driver had enough pity to wait 30 seconds on me and my slow sprinting self. Those 30 seconds – wondering if he’d take off without me in spite of my efforts – were torturous. The #23 trolley doesn’t come so often, which is why it’s quite normal to see people in a full on sprint to the bus stop – elderly, people with young children, people hobbling on a walking stick. When the trolley comes, you want to be on it, not waiting for the next one. Moldovans will break out into a full throttle run in their best suit just to make it to the trolley.
Once I was on, (huffing and puffing) I pulled Little Man up into my lap for the long ride to church. A couple stops before ours two little boys got on with their mom – probably 6 and 8 years old. The boys sat next to me and noticed the spiderman toy in Little Man’s hand. The older one started telling me – in an extraordinarily excited voice – about a pet spider his friend had once and the spider bit this other kid and it was a black spider and really furry and on and on, getting louder and more excited as he told me more details… His mom eventually hushed him, at which point he offered us some of his cherries, which we politely declined. (It’s impolite to accept a first offer – you have to wait until the 2nd or 3rd offer to accept.) And soon he was asking us where we were going. “We’re going to church,” I said. The little boy’s face dropped. “That’s awful. What a nightmare!”
Church carries lots of senses for Moldovans – an exercise in futility, something you do to make your grandparents happy, a place to be still and quiet and pinch your nose against the wafting incense, a corrupt institution, a good way to end your career, a place to be beaten over the head with all the things you’ve done wrong… A large, furry biting spider is still more nightmarish in my eyes, but then hey, what do I know?