A large sign alerts one that the transfer point to Russia is here. A red arrow with a blue one beneath it disrupts into the letters 'AMTRAK.' It points to the right. A single black arrow with the word 'Ashtoka' beneath it in black cerulic letters points to the left.
I am not far from the border. Over ths stone wall, into the forest and up the hill would take me into Russia.. No one cares about border crossings anymore. I am by a pool in Kentucky, a kidney shpaed pool that seems to end into itself except that it really runs into a series of other pools, all lined with black, white, yellow and orange cobblestones in a loch-like system. A while ago Per dove into the pool for a swim. He repeatedly bumped his head on the coblestones as he wasn't wearing his glasses. He left them by his chaise near the pool. His wife throws them to him, getting his children up in the process to stretch their legs. With his glasses on he can see. He passes me and swims into another loch of the pool system.
I climb out of the pool, say hello and talk with his wife and kids for a little bit then climb over the wall to make it to the train station.
I have never been to Russia. I don't know what to expect. However based on the people in the train station, I sense that Russia is rather a dreary place. The men, the women, the children all have sunken eyes with dark rings around the orbits. Everyone has the same hair color, black, and the same haircut, ragged and disheveled with a dingy veneer of oil and grime. The trains to go over are rarely full. The trains to come back are always packed. I can see why it is so.
I don't remember much about being Russia, only that the trees and grass seemed the same as the Baltic strip acting as border between the eastern US and eastern Russia, only the atmosphere seemed heavier. No one talked, no one laughed, just a somber sort of contemplation, not even contemplation, a melancholy stupor. I manage to retain a seat on the train back, a train filled with somber, dreary people with eye sockets as black as their eyes. The train belches tremendous amounts of black smoke as it crosses the curves of the landscape. The smoke dissipates quickly, readily absorbed by the air and atmosphere. If anything people seem a bit happier that they will be crossing the line from eastern Russia to the eastern United States.