Status: Renovation in process

I Left My Heart in Moscow but My Love Waits in Pittsburgh


It all felt suddenly real. Like a waking up from a good dream to cold, gray morning. I was in a cab in Pittsburgh, in a country where I know exactly one person and that one person doesn't even know I'm here and that one person I have no way of contacting. But I have faith that fate will bring us together. Fate has worked in many ways for me.

My entire dance career hinged on the dynasty my great-grandmother built with her dancing. Sure I was talented, but my build is not that of a dancer but perhaps more of a pole-vaulter's. You see while I inherited my mother's Russian looks with my dark brown hair, pale porcelain skin, full rosy lips, and high cheekbones, I inherited my father's brown eyes, framed by thick, dark lashes. The main problem is that I also inherited my father's height. My mother, typical for a ballerina, stands at 5'3" while my father towers over her at well above 6'. I stand at about 5'10" when wearing my pointe I'm nearly 6' tall. This is a problem because most danseurs, male ballet dancers, at the tallest are 6'. It seemed as if when I turned 14, my body decided to play tricks on me and my dream. Alien breasts seemed to protrude, rounding out my body, my legs and torso stretched and stretched, till I was nearly a giant among my classmates. No amount of talent or family prestige would make the ballet instructors at the Bolshoi Academy ignore my height and build that is until fate stepped in.

When I auditioned for the Academy so did Ilya Yurievich Kuznetsov, the 6'5" hockey player turned dancer. Ilya had turned to dance, when a freak accident involving: getting speared in the back with a hockey stick, getting slashed in the head with a teammate's skate and suffering the fifth concussion of his career. Ilya was told he should become serious about ballet, when he excelled at the ballet exercises taught at hockey camp. As much as I hate to say it, I'm grateful for Ilya's career ending injury, Ilya auditioning for the Bolshoi ballet gave me a pas de deux partner and a friend. Ilya's auditioning was by chance as well. He was going to the Academy to apply for a position as a janitor, which would provide him access to a studio to refine his technique as well as a source of income, but when he saw that the Academy was holding auditions for new dancers he decided he should apply.

Meeting Evgeni was kismet as well. When I was 8, I started taking ballet lessons at the local ballet studio, which is across from the ice rink where Evgeni practiced, however despite having his sister, Galina, in the same ballet class with me we had never met.

One day, I had to stay after class because I had missed the past few lessons, due to falling ill with pneumonia, which was odd because I never get sick even now, and not only that our driver, Andrei, was late. I was tired of waiting around for Andrei, so I walked to the rink, which my parents barred me from claiming the sport was "barbaric and ruthless" and far too rough and wild "for a lady, such as myself." The minute I walked into that rink my eyes were glued to the young boy with dark hair who just seemed to glide and fly over the ice, so gracefully. It was like ballet. When practice was over, about 10 minutes later, he came up to me and we talked till Andrei came running into the rink telling me we had to go home. I remember that night I called Evgeni and we talked for hours about everything from his favorite color to my favorite food.

We communicated through Galina and at night during our nighttime phone conversations. We developed a strong bond despite the only time we physically saw each other was after my ballet lessons or at school. I was young then maybe 10 or 11 years old but I knew that I wanted to marry Evgeni. I can remember every moment that I spent with Evgeni and every conversation we had. I even remember mama yelling at me when she saw the telephone bill at the end of the month. When she demanded to know who I was talking to, I simply told her I was talking to Galina and that I was helping her with her ballet. She seemed happy with my lie.

So was I.

I was jolted out of my reverie, by the sharp, almost shrill honk of the cab and I turn to see the blank, stoic face of the cab driver, “The fee is $48.35,” he said rather sternly.

“Oh okay, do you take credit card?” I asked hoping and praying that he did because the only cash I have is in rubles.

Then his face flushed red with anger and he yelled, “Read the sign! They still teach you how to read in your country, right?”

I looked at the sign that read in bold, red letters: If you are going to pay with a credit card, please tell the driver at the beginning of the ride. Then the enraged driver proceeded to read, no scream what the sign said word for word.

“Look, I’m sorry but I don’t have any cash! I only have my credit card!” I tried to reason.

Then the driver got out of the car and starts to call someone on his cell phone, “I’m calling the police!” he said proudly as if he had won some sort of battle.

“What! That is not necessary, I’m sure we can work something out!” I was distraught with the idea of being arrested in country I’ve only been in for two hours.

“What’s going on here?” A tall, blonde man, with blue eyes that could only be described as captivating, appeared.

Before I could even respond, the taxi driver exclaimed, “This woman is trying to snake her way out of paying for her cab ride!”

“Look! Okay this is just a big misunderstanding, I didn’t tell him that I was going to be paying with a credit card till after the trip and I don’t have any cash, just some rubles,” I explained more forcefully than I intended to.

The blonde scratched his chin, as he thought carefully over the situation, “I see… How about this, I’ll pay the fee instead,” he offered, pulling out his wallet.

The cab driver smiled from ear to ear, rather pleased that he would be getting his money and agreed, “The fare is $48.35.”

“Okay here you go,” he handed him a $50 bill, “Keep the change.”

And with that the cabby happily hopped in his car and sped away.

“I’m sorry, I wish I could pay you back but I just got here and it’s my first time in America and I don’t have any cash and-”

“Don’t worry about it, its cool," He smiled, revealing a row of white teeth. The smile didn't last long as his lips formed a smirk, "But if you really want to pay me back go out to dinner with me tonight. My name’s Jordan, by the way,”

“O-okay," I stammered. Going to dinner with strange men wasn't exactly my idea of spending my first night in America. "My name is Svetlana."

“Pick you up at six? I mean it’s kind of early but maybe you can meet my teammates.”

“Teammates?” I choked out. After five minutes,I have dinner plans with him and plans to meet his teammates.

“I’m Jordan, Jordan Staal.” He paused, taking in my blank expression, “You really don’t know who I am?”

“Should I?”

“I play for the Pittsburgh Penguins,” Again he paused, then chuckled to himself “The Penguins is the local NHL team.”

I blushed with embarrassment “Oh! Sorry, I-I don’t really follow the NHL that much, but six-six is fine, I live here by the way,” I gestured to the brick, apartment building across the street.

He smiled again, and this time I noticed the dimples in his cheeks “I figured,” Jordan glanced at his watch, “Sorry but I’ve got to go, but six o’clock tonight dress casual,”

“Bye nice meeting you,” I barely managed to get out, but by the time I said it Jordan became just another face in a crowd. I looked up at the daunting apartment complex and took a deep breathe, gripping my bags.

"Excuse me, miss? May I ask who you are looking for?" The doorman, a large, African man stopped me.

“Oh I’m Svetlana, the new dancer with the Pittsburgh Ballet Company. I’m supposed to look for Anna?”

“Welcome to America, Miss. Anna’s been waiting for you at the lobby, and I’m Robinson, you can just call me Rob.”

“Thank you,” I couldn't help but smile in relief, I guess not everyone in America is so bad. As I crossed the threshold, almost instantly I was spotted, by whom I assuming to be Anna, she was petite with pale blonde hair that was as bouncy as she was and blue eyes. She was classically pretty and had this aura to her that just exuded confidence. She ran up to me and gave me a hug which surprised me but I returned the hug so as not to make it too awkward.

“Hi, I’m Anna,” She said slowly and rather loudly, carefully enunciating every syllable.

“Hello, I’m Svetlana," I smiled broadly at her sweetness.

“Is that your only bag?”

I nodded.

"Okay well," Anna lead me to our apartment. “Alicia, the other girl who lives here, is out but she should be back soon, she teaches a class to young girls and boys.”

I could only nod as Anna kept talking about Alicia and the company and the lack of straight, male dancers, which I couldn’t help but giggle at.

“Oh, here we are apartment 117,” she opened the door with her key and she opened the door with a flourish, “Here we are, my- no, our humble abode.”The apartment wasn’t that bad, larger than I thought it would be, “Here’s the kitchen, the living room, down the hallway is my room, Alicia’s and one of the two bathrooms. That room right there is your’s and lucky you, you get the private bathroom but you must share the tub with us!”

When I merely nodded again Anna piped up and said, “You don’t talk much do you? Well, all the better I guess, people say between me and Alicia we talk enough for the whole floor.”

I laughed, “I’m going to go unpack.” The walls of my room were painted a soft seafoam green. It was sparsely furnished with a closet, a bed, a nightstand with an alarm clock and a vase of fake flowers, a vanity and an adjoining bathroom. I looked at the clock it read 2:00 PM, 10:00 PM in Russia. I stifled a yawn. Jetlag. I forced myself to finish unpacking before I would allow myself a nap. When I stumbled out of my room, there was another girl chattering away, who I assumed to be Alicia. she had wavy brown hair and olive skin with a curvy body. “Hi, I’m Svetlana and you must be Alicia,” I extended my hand towards her.

“How’d you know?” she shook my hand enthusiastically.

“Oh is it okay, if I go out tonight? Is there a curfew or house rules?”

“Oooh, hot date?” Alicia questioned. "We're all adults here Svetlana, as long as you don't let it affect your work, you can do anything you want," Alicia added with a wink.

I blushed at the suggestion, “Not exactly, this man helped me out today, with this mean cab driver. So to repay him, we’re going to dinner and meet some of his teammates after."

“Really, what’s his name?” Anna quipped, "How sweet!"

“Jordan,” I answered, hoping that only a first name would suffice, that they wouldn’t know who he was.

“Jordan, does he have a last name?” Alicia probed with a thoughtful look.

I tried to say his last name as nonchalantly as possible, “Staal.” Then I saw the shocked looks on their faces and I knew they knew who he was.

“Wait, Jordan Staal as in the Pittsburgh Penguins, Jordan Staal!” Alicia exclaimed.

“No way! And you’re going to meet his teammmates!” Anna squealed.

“You might meet Sidney Crosby!” Alicia gushed.

“Oh my God!” They said in perfect unison. “You are going to have to tell us all the deets after, okay?”

"Of course!" I smiled at thought that I was making friends. Starring at myself in the mirror, tugging on my sweater, running my fingers through my hair, basically just fidgeting, the doorbell rang and all I could think was ‘He’s early!’
♠ ♠ ♠
The taxi cab incident had actually happened to me but sadly Jordan Staal did not come to my rescue. Things are also picking up from here. Review please!