Things are proceeding apace. I went and looked up that word, apace, because I suspected that it did not mean what I thought it meant. I was right. I thought it meant fast, even too quickly. Really it means “swift enough to stay abreast, to maintain momentum.”
It serves my purpose. On the same day that the State Dep’t told me they were sending my passport to me, it arrived. That is some amazing overnight service. Practically keeps up with teleportation.
The hotel problem has resolved itself. A friend has offered me a place to stay. I didn’t know he had a place in St. Petersburg. It is all starting to feel too easy, or like I should have done this before, or maybe I feel a little rushed.
With the passport here, I have to get some kind of “invitation letter” to reassure the Russians that I am not going over there to sleep in the streets or something. Or maybe it is just a remnant from the Soviet era, this need to keep track of tourists.
It is suggested that I buy the plane tickets to get that invitation. Then I apply for the visa. Then I am going. I am pretty sure that if I tried to back out now, my friends and family would throw me in a sack and haul me to the airport in the trunk of a car. If for no other reason than they don’t want to hear about hockey anymore. Though they are not fans of the sport, probably even they suspect that no one is playing ice hockey right now, certainly not in this heat wave, and they don’t want to hear about pre-season practices either. There is nothing more boring than a newly converted fanatic.
Also weighing a little on my mind is the fact that Dimitry’s Moscow contact told him “it will be crazy.” I asked Dimitry if this meant the hockey games were likely to sell out before I could get tickets. He said no, getting them would not be a problem, we should revisit it closer to my departure dates.
So what did he mean, what is going to be crazy? The games? That can’t be. I read all the strict rules and regulations posted on one arena website, sounded like they knew how to keep things pretty sedate. And to hear Bettman dismiss the notion that the KHL is thriving, one would think the games are not well-attended, one could even say sparsely attended. Gulp. I’m not sure I could cope with an arena full of Flyers fans, never mind a similarly enthusiastic group all shouting in Russian. I have a phobia of stampedes and the circumstances that precede them. Actually that makes sense, to worry about stampede warning signs just as much as a stampede. Once the stampede starts, you’re done for.
Why didn’t I ask him what he meant? No idea. Maybe it was a fear of sounding stupid, which invariably makes me stupid.
What’s there to worry about? It’s just a tourist junket. I’m really very excited about it, but I keep remembering landing in the Czech Republic all those years ago, without a word of Czech in my arsenal, no clue where I was going. It was very different. I was there for a long time, had a job I didn’t know how to do in English, never mind Czech, there were no phones except at the post office, I couldn’t read the labels on the food in the supermarket. It took me some days to learn to breathe again. That was different, but it made me familiar with the pitfalls of jumping into a place you don’t understand verbally or culturally. Without a guide. It’s a special kind of exciting. Invigorating.
Superstition sneaks up on me when I’m distracted. So if I were looking for signs that this is a good plan, the fact that this momentum is maintaining itself has to mean something.