Monday, August 26, 2013

The Day I Realized Dogs Can Hug

When I woke up Saturday morning, there were three boys out in the hallway: Aksel and his two friends who are both named Kristen. Because they were here we had pancakes for breakfast.  Shortly thereafter, they left to go do something and my mother told me about the many things that were happening that day. I didn't really understand most of it, but I gathered that the new skatepark was opening that day along with some other event. But first we were going to see some relatives who live right next to the second largest lake in Estonia that is positioned almost exactly in the center of the country.

We drove down there along with my mother's parents. I sat in the back with Adeele in the middle and her vanaisa on the other side. Her vanaema sat in the front with my mother driving. It took about half an hour to get down there, but it seemed longer.

We eventually got down there and were greeted by five people in front of a small cottage. As we greeted them, a huge dog bounded down to see who had come. I immediately began to pet him to avoid standing around awkwardly, and because I absolutely love dogs. I soon found out that his name was Rex and I gathered that he usually barks at strangers from the little I could glean from the conversation, coupled with the hand gestures. As we started to go inside, I stopped petting him and he rolled to his feet and jumped up on me. He was a big dog and his legs went all the way around me and his paws were bent to hold himself upright. It was the first time a dog has ever hugged me back.

When Rex went back to his own house, most of the people went inside the cottage. Someone started setting the table for Kohvi, and everyone else started talking and looking at a picture album from some relatives who live in England who did a bike ride from England to Estonia.

Then one of the younger women, Liisa, told me to come upstairs and she showed me around and told me how this used to be her grandparents cottage when they built it twenty years ago and now she and her parents live there in the summer because it is a summer house. She also showed me her collection of souvenir plates from all the countries she's been to. There were lots of them. She also told me about how she gets a feeling sometimes in the summer, where she really wants to go someplace new and exciting and experience the culture and meet new people. We instantly had a connection.

We went back downstairs and had kohvi and cake, then went outside for a walk. We went around back and saw their sauna and various gardens full of growing things. Then we went down to the lake shore and looked out over the lake.

Then we went back to the house and sat on the porch and I listened to the conversation.

Eventually it was time to go and we piled back into the car and went home. When we got back, my mother took Adeele inside to try to put her to sleep and her grandparents took me in their car to the new skatepark and handed me off to Aksel. The two of us sat of the top bench of the three tiered bleachers and watched the skateboarders. I learned that it wasn't just the opening of a new skatepark, it was also a big competition. I also found out that the new skatepark is now the biggest concrete skatepark in the whole of Estonia.

After a while Anksel, his friends, and I decided to go see the football game that was happening in town. I expected that we were going to walk there, but only two of us did. The other three, me included, went by motorbike. I got on the back of Aksel bike, wearing a full head helmet, and we went zooming down the streets to the field. That was my first time and I was kind of scared on the turns especially, but it was still amazing. I just kept my arms around him and tried not to squeeze too hard on the corners.

After watching the football game, in which Elva beat Tallinn four to one, we went back home.

After dinner that night, my host parents, Adeele, and I went for a walk. We went across the football field and past the tennis courts and basketball court that I didn't even know was there to an amphitheater where singing performances and festivals are held. On the back side there was apparently a lot of gravity, but that day professional graphic artists had been invited to make beautiful pictures on the newly painted over walls.

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