Monday, November 23, 2009

Sitting in Zurich's light-flooded airport terminal, watching tidy little trucks ferry things back and forth between neat expanses of clipped green grass. The Alps are blue in the distance, the air smells good, and A. is wheeling the girls around in an empty luggage cart, recklessly and unmolested. Goodbye, Russia -- I hope I never, ever have to go back.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

And today we heard about jerking and naturally -- with our suddenly spacious apartment -- had to crank some west side beats and try it. 



So the crew is here, packing is underway -- total upheaval all morning until they took a coffee break, and the apartment became quiet. That's when we heard rustling inside one of the wrapped and boxed sofa beds. Hans, the kitten, was packed inside. One of the movers took his knife and cut a circular hole in the top of the large carton. Like a surgeon, another reached both arms in and lifted Hans out.  

Friday, November 20, 2009






Some photos from the last two weeks... including, above, our goodbye to EB's detsky sad. She is better, but bluish and tired. Movers arrive tomorrow. Apartment in a shambles; still, the cats suspect nothing. 

Bangs:


Weaving carpets:

That shop is full of gorgeous wares from Iran: rugs, bronzes... When A. asked whether it might be hard to take these out of the country, the owner brushed off the possibility: "No problem. We have papers saying everything here was made in China." 

Thursday, November 12, 2009

So EB has pneumonia. She was supposed to be hospitalized tonight, but there were no available rooms, so she's home to sleep and then back to the doctor in the morning. "Cancel your flight," said the doc; seems there's less oxygen at altitude and this can exacerbate the lung problem. But we don't leave for ten days, perhaps time enough to get well. 
I have a one-track mind lately, cannot think about anything but leaving Russia. There's very little packing to do, and (I have discovered) limits on how much can be planned in advance and from afar. So I'm a bundle of nerves. Growing very apprehensive about reverse culture shock. I sense big feelings brewing. Certainly, people live abroad for much longer stretches than we have, decades even, but nevertheless this experience has been so total, so intense, and so long, it has required so much coping, and claimed my powers of observation so completely, that once I am released from it I know I'll feel bereft. I will flail around for months, I expect, in Virginia, looking for fragments and people from Moscow, trying to remember, trying to get a handle on what happened here. So odd. So ironic. We are transformed, but cannot be sure how yet. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009





Counting the days now, each one a different goodbye to the city.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


It seems only right to pause and pay tribute to a jug of ambrosia, now almost empty, that has helped get us through the past year. Scott, your wildly impractical Christmas present (ostensibly perishable, once ridiculously heavy) has been worth its weight in gold! Still crisp on the outside with layers of packing tape from its transatlantic flight, long missing its lid, the bottle rattles when poured because of a crystalline mass forming at the bottom (no doubt yummy, if we could reach it). We have meted this stuff out all year onto oatmeal, squash, blini, yogurt, and lots else. In a Copenhagen coffee bar I discovered the Jimi Hendrix, a kick-your-ass-and-kiss-you blend of three espressos, cream, chocolate and maple syrup, and once in a while I try futilely to replicate it at home. Whatever it touches, real maple syrup makes better! And its been a happy taste of home on many mornings. Thank you bro!
I am mentally sorting our possessions, and saying goodbyes one by one. I know what we are leaving -- though it's hard to comprehend a goodbye so final -- but I have no idea what sort of life or home we're headed for.

Trying to make important arrangements, like housing, by email, is a bit like searching for life on Mars; I am squinting over the details of bad photos, sending out dozens of blind messages to a place we've never been, getting little response, hoping for small electronic signs of friendliness, wondering what it's like out there. Giving things away. Trying to prepare myself and the girls for the absoluteness of our leaving, that abrupt shift from being fully, inescapably in one world and then on (roughly) the same day, completely and irrevocably in another, with no easing out or in. That suddenness of air travel is still amazing and melancholy to me after many such departures over the years. We spend weeks mustering ourselves, packing up quite purposefully, attending to every detail, hurtling towards the climax of departure, and finally before dawn on the appointed day we step onto the plane, and sit down, and take a breath, and wonder, where are we going? And find there is no break, no rest; in those few moments on the runway we segue immediately from preparing to leave one life forever into facing the daunting and almost total unknown of a new one, and in a couple of weeks, in seat 23B, I will fasten my seat belt thinking, So the leaving's finally done; what do I need to prepare myself for now? 
 

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Happy birthday to Ursa Minor! You're two now, little bear!