After a long day of testing and presentations, my friend and I decided to escape the heat by lying underneath the shade in the Mikhailovsky Gardens. It was absolute perfection — the sun shone between the trees, there was a warm breeze, and for an hour and a half, there wasn’t a care in the world.
My time in St. Petersburg is rapidly coming to an end. I leave for Karelia and the north this Sunday, and a week from that, it’s time to make my way back to America. It amazes me that I’m soon going to be leaving, and that it happened so quickly. Was it really almost 7 months ago that I was in DC, anxiously waiting to hop on that plane over here?
And what have I learned in the short amount of time that I’ve been here? First and foremost, that Russia’s not simply full of vodka and bears. More importantly, that Russia is at first a scary, unpredictable place, one that you hate at first but then fall in love with. Russia has so much beauty to offer, not just with its bold war monuments and theaters, but with the small things, too: the light hitting a cupola of a church just right, the lazy and calm rivers, the hardened grandmothers, everything.
I love the brutal honesty of Russians. I love their ability to talk to any stranger as if he was a close friend. I love their inner friendliness that isn’t immediately shown. I love that what you see is what you get. Hell, I even love the rough Russian language, kind of in the same manner that I’d love a drunk, fat uncle just for kicks.
As we were leaving the park after getting kicked off the grass, we walked pass the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood (Спас на Крови). I stopped because I was awe at how the sun was hitting the golden onion dome, and how the church stood in contrast with the clear blue sky. A lump formed in my throat. I can’t be leaving this. I just can’t.