back in moscow.

January 15, 2013

Boarding my return flight to Russia was difficult. When I flew into STL mid-December, I knew going back would be hard and I reminded myself to be thankful for my time at home and to be aware of individual days so they wouldn’t pass too quickly. Living abroad has intensified all the idealistic notions I attach to “home.” And this time, home nearly lived up to those notions: my sister baked; grocery stores had sweet potatoes; my family loved their Russian gifts; I drank drip coffee every day; friends were easily accessible by car trips of no more than 7 hours and better yet, these friends existed in 3D; beer tasted like it was from Boulevard; and boyfriend Jack and I doted on each other and hugged a lot.   SONY DSC538054_583015405058097_2090842323_n SONY DSC

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Five hours into my ten hour flight back, though, Moscow became way more appealing. On a long flight, you’ll settle for anywhere that is not your airplane seat. I imagined my small Moscow apartment, wanted nothing more than to curl up in my sofa bed and then later, after a reasonably sized nap, unpack and settle back in.

The only obstacle was getting there with my two pieces of luggage and backpack. I’d taken two suitcases home because I had Christmas presents and because I knew I’d want to bring stuff back from the States (like: a new coat, Vitamin D, new boots, peanut butter). As I’ve mentioned before, Moscow does public transportation well. You can ride the metro to the express train, the express train to the airport; in one hour you’re there, avoiding taxis and traffic.

Getting all this luggage to the airport was no problem because Svetlana and Irina helped. It was nice: Irina + I carted my luggage on the metro and then Sveta met us at the train station. Sveta packed snacks, Ira addressed the letters she asked me to mail in the US and we giggled a lot.

But because Sveta and Ira were both getting back into Moscow around the same time I was and because I don’t yet know enough Russian to order a taxi and negotiate price, I decided to do this express train + metro trip solo.

My flight landed around 11 am Moscow time and I remembered all the snow. Getting my things to the express train was no problem; airports have many luggage carts. And taking the luggage down the escalator into the metro only required balance, which luckily I still had after almost 24 hours of travel. With this particular route, I knew I’d have to navigate three staircases; I hoped they wouldn’t be busy so I could take my time and carry each piece of luggage up individually.

64905_909291515712_1188886701_nWhen I got to the staircase at the transfer between the green line and the orange line, I took a deep breath and stared at the top. Immediately, a man appeared, grabbed the biggest suitcase and asked in Russian if he could carry the bag for me. My excitement and surprise probably made me sound like an idiot: “да да да.” The next set of stairs was at the exit of the platform at my station, Konkovo. This time a woman asked if she could help me. When she asked if she could help me the rest of the way, I shook my head and thanked her, this time using “большое спасибо.” I walked through the metro hall, ignoring all the shops, knowing that nothing in their windows had changed.

I got to the final–and longest–set of stairs, a series of three flights. I carried the biggest suitcase up to the first platform and went back to the bottom to get the smaller suitcase, literally running up them, so happy to be so close to home. A guy grabbed the big suitcase and carried it for me. His friends waited at the top of the stairs; they held the door open for me and smiled.

I’ve been speaking Russian to people, full sentences, not just one or two words. And last night when I paid my rent, landlord Vladimir called me “Karochka,” the pet name for “Kara.” My office has filled with friends every day this week. Russia, you’re not looking too bad.

Greetings from Missouri.

What with the planning and excitement about visiting home and then being home and taking a break from writing, I’ve been absent from the blog-o-sphere.  I imagine you’ve found other things to read on the internet, though. But if you haven’t, here’s a link.

I haven’t posted about writing for quite awhile. Midwestern Gothic is one of my favorite lit journals. The editors work hard to feature the best Midwestern writing and to create a beautiful product, a journal you want to own/hold/read. I first learned of it two years ago, and since then, have been published there twice. Quite a few of my Midwestern friends have been published there too (read: Mary Stone Dockery, Ben Cartwright, Caleb Tankersley, and probably more I’m forgetting).

So, when the editors asked me to answer some questions for the Contributor Spotlight, I said “yes.” You can read that here. You can/should also order a few issues. You’ll be happy you did.

I’ve enjoyed my short break from Russia. However, after my triumphant return next Sunday (!!!), I’m almost certain something write-worthy will happen to me and then I will share it with you.