An AU based around the often-pondered idea of "Alex coming to America."
Chapter One: Nomads with the Truth
Oozed quite unpleasantly out of the brainmeats of Kuddelfiske
December 15 1999
It is with great anticipation that I sit in this most uncomfortable chair, awaiting America. I know it may make you a perplexed person to know that I am writing to you only a few hours preceding our reunitement, but it is the only action with which I may terminate any amount of what Father-who-is-no-longer-Father has dubbed "fidgeting." I am much too liable to do this because I am often made an excessively boring person by these unexciting circumstances. I will inform you of all the things that I have performed since I set forth to America in this most direly uncomfortable arrangement. The first thing was to look at the magazines inside the pocket of the chair which I am facing, which very hastily made me boring, even considering that I am now an expert in airplane evacuation, including parachute activation, in case there should be a disaster. Perusing such instructions appealed to me as being similar to what you would study to occupy yourself. I do not intend to imply that you are an overly anxious person, Jonathan, but that you are very inclined to be as secure as it is possible for you to be, which, regrettably, was not very in Ukraine. The second thing was to hit on the flight attendant. I will not go into very great detail, as it did not end well. The third thing was to read "War and Peace" by Tolstoy (thank you for informing me that they are indeed one book, not two as I had previously considered), which grew tiring after three hours. (Actually, Jonathan, it grew tiring after three minutes, but I felt as though I had an obligation toward self-betterment as prescribed by literature. Also, there was truly nothing else to do.) At this point, I began to manufacture zzzs with my face in my own lap, which is not such an enjoyable thing. But it is all endurable when I consider your country! My solitary regret is that Little Igor could not accompany me, but there are reasons. I will procure for him many photographs and many letters. I had so wanted him to see this place, Jonathan, but it is not possible. So many things are not possible.
I set down my pen. It was becoming rigid to write, and I had not intended for my letter to become melancholy. We are in no shortage of that, although we are attempting to make it not so. Mother was already becoming a happier person in the absence of Father. Although he had never violenced her, she was still made distressed by his presence, and always attempting to procure things of which he will approve, which was not very cinchy. Sometimes Father's disapproval stung and it pained me more than his punches. He had the most malevolent eyes in his anger. Although the situation of his absence was never entirely elucidated to Little Igor, he understood (you will note that I did not write "understanded"), and lives in accordance less fearfully. That is all I truly want, is for Mother and Little Igor to not live in fear. Fear is the opposite of happiness. I have reprimanded Jonathan several times upon this fact.
The pilot informs us that we will be landing shortly. I lean and look out the diminutive window and smile, because New York City is in view, and it is so beautiful. The uncountable lights issuing forth from below recall one of Jonathan's stories of Trachimbrod, and the light, except that I am not in space, merely an airplane, and it should be much brighter if it were. Regardless, it makes me smile at Jonathan Safran Foer's genius, and his strange ideas. Because he is not so often speaking, I contemplate that it gives him the space necessary for thinking. Many people assume that I am empty-headed because I am nearly always speaking, but this is far from the truth. I am a very thoughtful person, more thoughtful than many, but I do not mean to imply that I could have ever cognated the light.
My stomach lurches forward for the descent, but I can easily forget. As the wheels and the plane bump up and down before finally resting on the ground, I feel myself go almost numb with amazement -- this is America! I inform the man next to me enthusiastically of this, but he becomes very irritated and says, "I know," before standing to remove his luggage from the space above. I stand to retrieve mine. It is a very aged suitcase, as Grandfather possessed it, and it is plastered with many Soviet stickers. I smile embarrassedly at the businessman with his sleek black suitcase, which is not covered in Soviet stickers, and he ignores me, shuffling forward in the very slow line to exit the airplane. I join this shuffle, letting five people follow the severe man before I do, so as not to let him ruin my first impression. Not that anything really could, of course. I have been imagining America for too long.
"Good afternoon, thank you for flying with us!" the flight attendant in the short skirt says to the hostile American. She says this to the five people, but then as I pass, she looks at me with pursed lips and disgust. I try to make amends by informing her that I am not American, but she only replies, "I can tell." But I keep walking.
It is not surprising to me that this airport is much more spacious and much more crowded than the one in Kiev, but the sheer amount of people was unforeseen! A few of them seemed strangely familiar, but I brush the notion aside. Why be nostalgic over the thing of the past, which is so much less premium than the thing of the present? I am not intending to imply that I am not nationalistic of Ukraine, but I cannot prevent comparing it, just as one cannot help but compare a melancholy landfill to a modern incinerator. I dig incinerators, even if they are not so premium with the environment. I know that Jonathan would disapprove (he does not even eat the chickens!), just as he would disapprove of many things which I dig, like Ferraris, leather shorts, and girls who are informal with their boxes.
As I recall The Collector, I realize very suddenly that I should be searching for him. A veritable sea of people flows before and all around me, and I weave through it, looking for a person who lacks all color. Jonathan Safran Foer appears to me as though he emerged from one of the aged movies Grandfather used to watch on television late at night, when he thought I was not observing him. He is also acting like this, with very good manners and quiet, similar to the dramatic movies, but not like in the jovial musicals which Grandfather occasionally smiled and scoffed at, which had the top hats and the man with the mustache of Hitler. I always considered it a very odd display of facial hair, but as I scratching at the space between my lip and my nose, I thought that I should be green with envy for anyone capable of procuring even a miniature mustache. It is regrettable that I have never had to shave in my life, and I am of a valiant 24 years! I often imitate the act of shaving when Little Igor is proximal so that he will consider his brother a great deal more masculine. Not than I am not, of course. I simply cannot procure much more than miniscule hairs on my face, which are bothersome and spleen me. I try to imagine the hero with a beard and mustache, like the Rabbis and Hasidic Jews (although Jonathan is a jew with a miniature j) are in the practice of having, and I burst out with laughter.
I feel a light tapping on my shoulder and I turn around, quizzical. It is indeed the clean-faced hero! I eye his attire and cognate that looking for a black-and-white person had been a futile effort, because he is not wearing his usual suit, but instead the shirt I had mailed him that said "Heritage Touring" on it in English and in Russian, and also, very strangely, blue jeans!
"I bothered to learn how to spell your name right," he says to me, with the faintest smirk, holding out a rectangular sign for me to observe. On it is written my name in Russian!
"So you are speaking Russian now?" I inquire.
"Ah, I take lessons every now and then," he says, positioning his hand behind his head. "I don't really know that much yet, except the Cyrillic alphabet, and of course, you know, Jhid."
"You are no longer a putz!" I exclaim, very proud.
He laughed at my funny. "No, I guess not." There was a brief passage of silence between us.
"Would it be permissible to hug you, Jonfen?"
"Um, sure, go right ahead." He shrugs, and I hug him very tightly, in the process levitating him off the ground. I had forgotten that he is severely short, and that I am unequivocally tall!
"Wow," he utters, laughing a little as I release him, "I haven't been hugged that violently in ages."
"Who was it?"
He looks over to me as we walk through the airport. "My Grandmother."
"She used to lift me off
the ground, too," he said, smiling at the memory. I smile at it,
too. "We should go get the rest of your bags from the
carousel thing." I bit my lip regretfully.
"Actually, Jonfen, this suitcase is all I am in possession of." His eyes bug out, magnified by his glasses.
"What, are you serious? Just one piece of luggage?"
"This is the truth."
"People usually bring a bit more than that when they go to a different continent, you know," he says, but it is informative, not disapproving.
"I am not in possession of an excessive amount of things," I utter, shrugging, "so I brought what I thought I would need."
"I never really thought of you as being particularly frugal," he says, eyeing my solitary Soviet-crap suitcase and then my bling, which I had to remove to pass through the x-ray machine. I smile, and say nothing. I had discovered the money, which Grandfather had wanted among his possessions, and although I felt as though I should perform something more honorable than this, I pocketed it to finance my long-planned trip. It was all currency that I had not disseminated at famous nightclubs, as I had often boasted of doing. When I look back upon it, I often wonder why I was such a nomad with the truth in ways that were not similar at all to Jonathan's. Everything I spoke not-truths about was merely to elevate how other people observed me, and every not-truth he wrote was to elevate how he observed other people. There are just as many different varieties of selfishness as there are varieties of sadness, but I am sure that ours are forgivable. "I'm sorry, I make too many assumptions …"
"It is only because I make too many not-truths."
"I like your not-truths," he says, looking up at the flags hanging from the ceiling. "They make sense."