Hockey. My newly discovered interest. What is so satisfying about watching a hockey game?
For me, it is the sound of the puck gliding on the ice from one stick to another. This soft, dull, clattering sound of rubber (puck), wood (stick), and ice is extremely soothing. It makes me feel fuzzy inside. It is so unique and recognizable that hockey itself becomes one of a kind only because of this sound. For some people, the sound of the ocean is the most comforting. Others, for instance, love the beat of the rain against the window. I love the sound of puck tossed, passed, bounced, hit, and deflected off the post. When hockey is on, all the daily sounds fade and recede into the background. I do not check my phone if a message rings. I do not hear the neighbour doing a power workout and making ridiculously loud breathing sounds. I stop noticing the sound of the dishwasher machine. For this moment, the game is in you. You are the game. As Eckhart Tolle says, it it the now moment. It is the hockey time.
Do you have any weird obsession over something in your life? Do you have any habit that is so irrational you cannot really explain even to yourself? I do. It is the cookies. To be more precise, it is the obsession of having tea and dunking cookies into it.
It all started in childhood. Once my parents bought a package of simple, not flavoured cookies just as a treat for tea. All of my family members would bite a cookie and have a sip of tea after that. I tried their way and felt the cookie remained too dry in my mouth. I thought that was not the way to experience the full taste of a cookie. I instinctively dunked half of a squared cookie into my tea, swallowed the soaked cookie, and had my first cookie orgasm. It was the best thing I had ever tasted. Without exaggeration, I finished the whole package in one day. That’s how it all started and continued pretty much till my late teens.
My parents could not make me lose a taste for cookies. I would simply refuse to eat anything except for cookies sometimes. My poor parents, I gave them a lot of pain. You see, I had always been very picky with food. Sensitive to most ingredients, as they say it now. I would only eat certain things, and there was no force in the world that could make me try something outside of my comfort food zone. I did not complain to my family. I simply went hungry for hours or days. Eventually, my dear parents gave up and let me enjoy the dunking process. As for the cookies, I could not just dunk any type into the tea. There were several rules concerning the size, texture, filling, and shape of cookies to make my tea ceremony perfect. It sounds crazy. I cannot explain why I had that obsession. I was the only one in my family like that.
Time passed, and I grew up. I had to start watching what I ate and how much I did. Painfully for me, I had to eliminate cookies from my diet. I rarely eat them now. The obsession, however, has not ended. Even now, I literally have to skip the cookie aisles in the stores because of this strange temptation to resort to the bad habit. And if, for some reason, I find cookies at home (some guests might have left them after the potluck party), I let myself forget about the diet, indulge in a pleasure, and forget all the problems in my life. Even if it is only for 10 minutes.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. I would never have expected to see so many Russian people there. My sister told me many times that Dominicana had recently become of the more popular travel destinations for Russians, but I did not take it seriously. I thought there would probably be two or three Russian couples on the resort and that would be it. For some reason, I assumed the majority would not choose the same hotels as we did. I assumed there were hotels “specifically” oriented for Russians. Boy, was I really wrong about that.
The magic happened like in a Cinderella’s story when the clock was about to strike 12. We spent the first four days interacting with hotel staff using our primitive Spanish (gracias, buenos dios, ola) and using English to talk to American and Canadian “vacationers.” On the New Year eve, we dressed fancy for the evening, left our hotel room, and moved towards the gala hall. And here the magic happened. Boom! One couple speaking Russian. Boom! Another one. Boom! Third, fourth, firth, sixth, and so on. It felt like we fell asleep and woke up to find ourselves in another hotel or another reality. No more English or Spanish heard. Pure Russian. As Russian as it gets. They all came to celebrate New Year at Dominican. I realised later that it was also because Russians have the longest official vacations the first 10 days of January, so naturally they all want to go on vacation during this period. The hotel was “taken” by Russian couples, as my boyfriend was joking. It was surreal.
To be honest, I feel homesick very often. Sometimes I think about my parents and start crying, even in public places. I cannot help it. When you move to another country alone, you always have a tremendous feeling of loss. Loss of home. Loss of the luxury of seeing your parents every day or even every week. Listening to all those couples speaking Russian made me think how I wished my family were here with me to celebrate New Year. Working and studying in Canada changes you and makes you want to integrate into the society you are living in. But at those moments when you suddenly hear your native language from other people and see the cultural habits you used to have, you remember that part of you will always remain foreign no matter how much you want to fit in. And maybe it is a good thing.