10 August, 2009

The Russia Diaries: 10 August

10 August, 2009

In Moscow you can sit in an enormous restaurant where you don't know anybody and where nobody knows you, and you don't feel that you're a stranger.
-- Anton Chekhov, The Three Sisters

* * *

To Moscow! Ah the cry of Chekhov's three sisters! To Moscow indeed!

Truth be told: I am depleted.
Burnt out.
These are the most accurate words to describe my current condition, but naturally it only grazes the edges. At this moment in my life I am empty in every significant way. Confidence. Creativity. Basic energy required to function. Jobless, homeless, heartbroken and exhausted, I am uncertain as to whether or not I will be able to be present for this journey. Yet, great moments of human endeavor can stimulate a sort of poetry.

This moment calls for the poise and ponderous delivery of never-to-be-forgotten strengths, a compromise between spiritual slaughter and the potential for a kind of ascension... Oh the competition.

But one must persevere. I must not allow the depletion to impale my brain, or let others crush my currently unbeating heart.

I will make a point of healing, topping myself up again, and, perhaps most dauntingly, opening myself to woundedness. The rains shall rinse out every fear.

And after all, to quote Anton's sisters once again:

What seems to us serious, significant and important will, in future times, be forgotten or won’t seem important at all.

And so I am here, in Moscow, further than Irina, Olga and Masha ever got, and here, again referring to the words of the sisters, I am not a stranger. In Moscow, there shall be light.

* * *

After our three-hour Aeroflot flight from London we passed through the formidable gates of Russian security, collected our bags, and made our way through the glass airport doors.

And there, hands cradled behind his back, standing just beyond the threshold, he stood.

He wore a burgundy cotton t-shirt, perfectly pressed linen trousers and light-weight sandals to combat (or perhaps to appreciate) the glorious heat of a late Russian summer day. His gray head was angled ever-so-slightly downward, his eyes hopeful and expectant through his dark-rimmed glasses.

As we approached he opened both of his arms wide and smiled. The gesture was subtle but his face spoke volumes as he approached, embracing Kit with both of his already open arms. "Hello, old friend," he greeted, his accent rich and voice full of feeling. "Hello!" greeted Kit, equally thrilled. They look at one another and grin broadly. There is a look of appraisal, of flooding memory, of understanding at grayer hair and nearly matching black-rimmed glasses.

In the vestiges of my memory, even from the periphery I can recall Kit's last visit to Russia, for when he was last there he was with Lilly who was with me celebrating the New Year my house in 2002. He emailed her. He spoke of amber. I didn't know him then, but I remember it well.

It has been seven years since they visited last. They are very old friends, and it would not take hearing the story of their meeting in 1991 to know it in this moment.

"Oh! This is Alexandra," introduces Kit, and Vadim takes my hand with both of his, greeting me with such an intensity of welcoming that my breath is nearly taken away. "Come!" he says his voice suddenly full of fun, and we make our way across the busy parking lot.

I already like him.

"I love American cars," he informs us as he packs Kit's giant blue and my petite red suitcases in the truck of his Chevrolet. He shuts the lid of the trunk, opens the doors, and soon the bespectacled Vadim (sporting a new goatee so I am told) is buckled up and we are on our way.

"Shall we drive through the city center?" he asks with a degree of excitement in his voice. "I love to drive through the city when there is no traffic. Traffic is terrible problem in Moscow, but today is a Monday. I feel like we should take the opportunity. Today it is a very good day."

Yes it is.


  1. Lovely story. Beautiful writing. So the Russia Diary begins. Thank you in advance.

  2. Yes, can't wait for more of the travelogue!

  3. Beautiful post. Oh, I want to go back to Russia!

  4. "In the first few seconds an aching sadness wrenched his heart, but it soon gave way to a feeling of sweet disquiet, the excitement of gypsy wanderlust"
    — Mikhail Bulgakov



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