Dodging the funnel clouds, we made it to the Galleria Mall in Dallas safely. The Russian shop was kinda cool, full of nesting dolls, Soviet uniform coats, and medals. Some of them were labeled, telling what they were for and “very rare” added. I laughed and wondered if they really were. How could the average American tell?

Katherine is a Russian addict. Back in her room, she had a map of Russia on one of her walls. I mentioned that, until recently, my room had been plastered with maps of Russia. “I sense a bond here,” joked Margery.

We sat down in the cafe area overlooking an ice skating rink and ordered borscht and a bunch of other things that looked interesting: crepes with meat and cottage cheese, potato dumplings, and cabbage rolls. I couldn’t remember the Russian name for all of them if I tried. Margery kept saying what a wonderful color the beets made the borscht. “I wish I hada skirt this color,” she said. I leaned forward to tip her bowl. “That’s two,” she pointed a warning finger at me before I got close enough to actually do anything destructive, while Mikey and Katherine laughed uproariously, “Yes, I think she’s definitely IPS material.”

I ordered hot tea with my meal. We all traded around so everyone could have a little of everything. While we were eating, I kept thinking about Anna Karenina and the food in that book. During the main course, Margery said, “This reminds me of Anna Karenina.” “Yes, I was thinking the same thing,” agreed Katherine. Mikey nodded.

I sipped at my third cup of tea before we left for the bookstore, where Katherine and Margery had arranged to meet some folks in their idea of a wild night out. “Are you sure it’s all right?” they kept asking me. I told them they could lock me in a bookstore, and I’d be happy the rest of my life. When we finally departed, Mikey asked me, “You’re coming away empty-handed?” “I don’t BUY books,” I told him, “I go to people’s houses and take what they’re giving away.”

Margery pulled out an umbrella and opened it. “I have an umbrella here if anyone wants to share,” she offered. “No, thanks,” I said, “I don’t believe in umbrellas.” “Somehow I didn’t think you were,” she responded, “Anyone who is traveling around the world…” “I haven’t gone YET.”

Tess, the mother of the house Katherine lives in, insisted I sleep on the couch downstairs that she’d already made up for me. Katherine warned me that the kids would wake me up at 6 something. “What time were you thinking of leaving?” “About eight.” “Eight?! You should have told us! We wouldn’t have kept you out so late!” It wasn’t even midnight. As It brushed my teeth up in Katherine’s bathroom, she asked, “Are you sure the kids won’t bother you in the morning? Are you sure the couch will be okay?” I offered assurance that I should be just fine and wouldn’t have any trouble sleeping at all. “I guess not, since you’re traveling around the world.” “I haven’t gone YET.”

—Stay tuned for another exciting episode of Jonah’s Trek Out West.

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