This is a strange life we lead, where we live in a place for two or three years, and then move on to some place entirely different with the very real possibility we'll never return to the previous post. In some ways Russia was a huge part of our lives, and in other ways it seems almost surreal, like it never happened at all. Some of my memories of Russia are already starting to feel like a dream. But I made real friends in Russia, and Jack spent a quarter of his life there. I also learned a lot about myself during our first tour. So even though we've left Russia, probably for good, I know I'll always carry a little bit of Russia with me.
Today John gave me a set of postcards from my friend Barbara, who is just finishing up her first year in Yekaterinburg. I don't have a lot of mementos from my time there - a couple of small oil paintings I bought with Barbara just before I left, a piece of local stone from our nanny, and the random pieces of clothing I purchased while there are pretty much it. But these postcards really touched me in a way I didn't expect. One of them appears to be of the apartment building we lived in, actually, and although the picture is far more peaceful and picturesque than the real thing (our corner was generally congested with traffic and either muddy or covered in snow), it reminds me of some of the things I liked most about Yekat: the girls on their horses, giving rides to children outside the zoo; the black and gray hooded crows that cawed noisily in the trees; the old wooden buildings in Yekat that contrast so starkly with the modern concrete and steel structures. (Of course I don't recall any particularly beautiful sunsets; the sun rarely got above the buildings all winter long, and I was asleep for most of the sunsets during the rest of the year!)
|I swear that's our building on the left!|
I won't lie - our time in Russia wasn't easy. Yekaterinburg was not the ideal first post for many reasons, and while I don't believe in regret, I also can't help wondering how things might have turned out if we'd gotten MY first choice for our post (oh Prague, I'll get to you some day!). My only hope is that we left the Consulate a little better than when we found it, and that the relationship between Russia and America improves again soon.
So I guess this is goodbye, Russia. Thanks for the memories, and if we meet again, may it please be in St. Petersburg!