My parents were here the last week of school and the week after. It was an exhaustive trip for them and us. Thankfully, I had prepared them in advance of how it could be....because it was. It seemed everything that could go wrong, did. First day of sight seeing was overcast, but we forged ahead. Upon arrival to our destination, Christ The Saviour, we found it to be closed. No notice, nothing. Then it started to rain. We didn't have umbrellas. A few snap shots for proof we were there and then home, after we stopped for band aids....blisters. A few days later we were scheduled for a river cruise. Heard the phrase "don't miss the
boat" ? I have never missed a boat until now. Let me tell you missing the boat stinks. The Radisson River Boat was so kind and rescheduled us for the following day, only after telling us they didn't have to do such a thing. Wasn't that kind of them? I wonder if the sweat dripping down my face, soaking wet silk shirt and grimaced face looking at the Mr had anything to do with that? Lets talk about our arrival to St. Petersburg on THE busiest weekend of the year, Night of White Lights. The apartment we rented six months prior was rented out from under us. Four hours later, after midnight, and hearing my mother say repeatedly "we are in the ghetto" we finally get into a place. I told my mother we weren't in the ghetto. All of Russia looks like the ghetto! That, my friends, was only the beginning of the weekend. The rest involved security involvement from the firm, no air conditioning, bug bites galore, workman coming into my room unannounced (knowing i was there) and a death in the family. Such Fun!
Returning to Moscow was a relief, surprisingly. Unless of course you consider the driver having turned the heat on in the car (in JUNE) for the return to our apartment. We were miserable! We had a day to do wash, pack and prepare for our return home for summer. As my mom helped me pack thoughts crossed my mind.
I was going home! Perhaps not to live full time, but home for a few weeks. I did it! Celebrating prematurely by a few months, yes. Our one year anniversary of living in Moscow wasn't until August 12. But, I thought, I did it! And I did do it..... Inside, I was so proud of myself. I told the Mr upon our decision to move here I could do anything for two to three years. One year down.
One year down....it went by so fast! Every day was a new day. No one day was ever the same. In one year I learned and accomplished so much.
I learned upon packing to go home that nothing fit. And I mean NOTHING! I gained weight. I prefer to say I gained muscle though because it weighs more than fat. So, lets go with that! In all seriousness, my body did change, for the better. I may have gained weight and gone up a size (Gasp), but I was firm. My arms and shoulders became more defined. My once flat butang was no longer flat, but semi rounded. My comfortable shorts, loose in the rear, were no longer loose. My mom, lovingly said "you're going on a diet." I lovingly said "I'm going shopping."
I also learned not to give your only key to your housekeeper. Because when she has it and the Mr leaves for work, he locks the door. This leaves you and the Munchkins locked inside your 23rd floor apartment without a way to get out.
I have learned why Russians are the way they are. Although there may be men in power here, this country is sustained by women. I admire and respect the women tiring to make a living, support their families, etc. It is not an easy life here.
I learned some of the Russian language. I learned the Russian language is hard. I learned about accusative, nominative, dative, genative, instrumental and prepositional cases. And I learned I don't want to learn Russian anymore.
I learned the post traumatic stress I felt prior to moving here was not warranted. The adoption left me a bit nervous to live here knowing what could happen because it did happen, back then. But now is not then. I am so glad we are here. I wouldn't say I love it here, but I do like it. I learned I am a lot stronger than I thought I was.
I accomplished the Metro! Did you know the Moscow Metro system transports more people in a day than New York and London, combined? I will never forget the first week we were here, heading somewhere on the Metro. So many people, foreign language, two munchkins to hold, trying to track the Mr. We made it to the platform and tears started streaming from my eyes. I gathered my composure so as not to let the munchkins see my fear. How was I going to do this? Within days I had this Metro thing down not to mention the buses, trolley buses and tramvaj.
I Metro surf. Bet you didn't know this about me, did you? These trains go crazy fast, underground, in the dark. It is mind blowing to me. Yet, we stand, I stand, facing the entrance doors inside the Carriage. As the train takes off, you shift your weight to one side, coming back to center as the speed levels. It becomes a game. How long can you go balancing yourself, shifting weight before you need to grab a bar? (Note...other things have been grabbed during high traffic times, like the backside of my body). A true Muscovite Lady can Metro Surf in heels, never needing to grab the bar. This is my next goal.
I accomplished the worst winter/snow Moscow has had in over 100 years. Coming from a Florida girl...Do I need to say more? They are saying this will be the coldest winter on the books. It snowed today. This has nowhere to go but down hill, fast.
I accomplished making new friends. The first days jitters of school "will they like me?" went away. Within days I knew a few. After weeks I knew more. What takes years to accomplish in friendships is exponentially decreased in Expat years. Day one you are learning a new friends name and by day five not only do you know their life story, your are emotionally vested into their well being, they have become family and your kids are calling them Aunt and Uncle. I am so blessed to have my circle!
I also learned it just isn't the saying hello that is hard, but the saying good bye as well. My very first hello to a person in Moscow was also my same, first good bye. Diamand Lady was my long lost sister. We did everything together. I have never laughed so hard in my life with anyone. And then she and The Greek left 5 months later. They took a piece of my heart when they left. It (Moscow and my heart) hasn't been the same. Meeting Diamand Lady and The Greek was a life changing event for me....top 10.
If coming to Moscow meant meeting my unbelievable circle and then having them leave or for me to leave them, it was all worth it. For this reason, I accomplished the most!
Recently, I learned it isn't the first year that is the hardest, but the second. Stuff no one tells you....because if someone told me in my first year that it was the easy year, I would have laughed and then cried. So, I won't tell anyone new who is trying to get their cell phone to work, living in a hotel while looking for permanent housing, attempting to order a water cooler, or dealing with car sick kids sitting in vomit for two hours in a traffic jam that this is the easy part. Such Fun!