One year ago, I was probably walking through Tavrichesky Sad in Saint Petersburg, smiling at how Russians of all ages like to sunbathe in their underwear. It’s logical, right? Why waste money and the headache of bathing suit shopping when you can just hit the park during your lunch break, find a nice spot of grass and hang out in your undergarments? Plump, svelte, wrinkled, smooth – it didn’t matter. In fact, the first ray of sun after the long winter, a line of braver Russians would also appear sun bathing outside of the Peter and Paul Fortress – there was still snow on the ground, mind you, but that didn’t matter. Now, I don’t want to exaggerate – many Russians do wear bathing suits, but usually they were the beach sun bathers, not the park bathers.
Anyhow, now that I am home and back in the States, I have been doing my best to grasp the Motherland and understand what makes her tick. My thesis research has had me sinking my teeth into whatever literature will give me a better understanding of how Russia developed following the great demise. I now think I understand what I could not grasp while living in Russia. I absorbed a lot but couldn’t process it all until removed from it. And the ironic thing is, I really know very little. Think about it – do New Yorkers get Californians or Texans, and vise versa? Do politicians in Washington really understand politics in the rest of the world? My point is that Russia is dynamic. I lived in a beautiful “modern” city very isolated from the more rural Russia. I caught glimpses when I traveled on the train in third class with the locals, but Russia is vast and so are her people and history. I recently read, and highly recommend, Susan Richards book Lost and Found in Russia, as it gives the reader a good idea of what life was like for Russian people following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Richards dedicated almost two decades to traveling through Russia, making new friends and telling their stories in her book. Someday, I hope to be able to take the time to traverse the entire country (and ideally, post-Soviet space), but for now, I’m going to do what I did not do much of while I was in Russia – write about it. Most of my blog posts were dedicated to photos and sight-seeing, which left me too exhausted to actually write about what it was like living in Russia as a foreigner. We used to have a little saying – back in “the West…….”
That being said, now that I am back in “the West” looking back at days not long ago, I will begin to write about the untold events that exist for me now only in memories and photographs, beginning with the day I left home, terrified of what was ahead. It didn’t help that Domodedovo airport was bombed the morning of the day I was scheduled to fly out. I confess now, I started to have second thoughts, but then my parents thoughtfully tried to console me with the notion that security is always heightened after such incidents – when my friend and I arrived at Moscow’s other airport, you could have fooled us! If “heightened” is the blond woman who frisked me when I went through Security and then proceeded to laugh at my underwear, then okay 🙂 My husband was sneaked through security at this same airport when he was about to miss his connecting flight to SPB. I honestly don’t want to write everything now, so I will stop here and go for a jog, where I am sure I will not see people sun bathing in their underwear. Until next time…..
Here’s to sunbathers across the globe!