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Love at first – actually, make that last – sight

Russia

It’s nearly midnight but still warm.  It feels like the whole city is out on the streets, celebrating.  Groups of people everywhere.  Laughing, chatting, drinking.  Kids running around.  Sometimes I hear music, usually the sound of an accordion, and people would be dancing to it.  Out on the street.

We came into town to watch the fireworks and now it’s time to head home.   For us and for thousands of other people.  Yet the city has not put on any additional trams or buses.  After a brief moment of thinking “Isn’t that typical – why doesn’t anything ever work here?” (but not saying it, as I don’t want to offend my local friend) we decide that trying to walk home is preferable to waiting for hours for a tram.  And so we start walking.

I have never seen the city like this!  There is a sense of fun and enjoyment that you don’t normally see in public.  The reserved, the suspicious people are showing their lighter side.

This is my last evening here before I leave the country and start building a life in a whole new place.  It’s been a tough year.  Many many times I’ve just wanted to pack up and leave.  The language, the climate, the team dynamics – all seemed to conspire to make things difficult. All seemed to be bringing to the surface lots of things in my attitudes and in my character that I would have quite liked to stay buried.  At times, it was only my stubbornness that stopped me packing my bags.  Love at first sight it definitely was not.

But on this night, as we spend a couple of hours walking across town, I am genuinely enjoying it.  It strikes me what an amazing gift that is.

To have this evening of seeing and enjoying so much of what is good about this country.  The warmth that is so often hidden behind a harsh façade.  The tremendous hospitality  (my friend lets me stay over in her very small dorm room, as walking home by myself would not be a good idea).  Their love for their country, even though it is not an easy place to live, at this time of great change and uncertainty.

It might not have been love at first sight but I know a part of my heart will forever be in this place.

Love at first last sight

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