Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Last night, I talked with one of the most extraordinary kids I've met in a long time. Alex grew up in Russia, but moved to the US five years ago after his mom married an American. He lives in Bozeman, and showed me his Yellowstone Grand Teton park pass. He invited me downstairs to have a cup of tea while he had a little something to eat with the malaria meds he needed for volunteering on the coast. What was so great about this kid was the way he seemed excited just to be alive in the world. Everything he described that he'd seen was "so cool." The cebiche restaurant he'd found: "so cool." Taxi drivers and their stories: "so cool." He's 20 and just wants to have lots of "life experiences." He seemed a little envious of all the places I've been, reminding me of how lucky I am. He was describing his mom as a "humanitarian" and said he guessed he was a humanitarian too. How many 20 year olds describe themselves that way?! Unfortunately, he can't go back to Russia for another seven years because he'd be drafted, and the way he described the demoralized Russian military, the beatings and suicides, was pretty grim. He didn't suggest not having a draft, just that they should allow people to work in hospitals or build trails, something productive. With his eyes wide open, taking everything in, and his constant smile, he's clearly going to do great things.