Trip to Russia. The Last Day in Moscow and Departure

Trip to Russia. The Last Day in Moscow and Departure

Our last day. We visited my mom and my brother. This has been their place for the last ten years. Maybe because mom and I have lived apart for so long I still do not completely accept her relocation. It feels like she is still around — there was just no time to talk.

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Last minute trip to the Red Square. The Kremlin was closed that day so we just walked around checking local merchants for souvenirs to bring back home. Home? Sounds so strange. This was my home. It still feels home — my dad is here — and it doesn’t. My home is not a place — my home is with Tom.

 

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An abundance of matryoshka dolls of all shapes and sizes. Strangely, I never had one when I was little. It was strange to see ushanka hats on a hot day of summer.

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Mojito — 150 R              Business Lunch — 190 R

Tea, coffee                     Salads, soups

Milk cocktails                Pelmeni

Alkohol                          Bavarian sausage

We smoke here! 

I would like to see this last line by a New York establishment.

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So it’s over. We are by the Kremlin wall and have an hour to kill before our final dinner with my dad. Feels like we’ve been everywhere, seen everything. Forever went by in a flash.

What do we do? We have a beer.

What would I miss and remember the most from these ten days? It will be the four of us stuck together on a plane, on a train, on a boat, in a hotel room, in a car, or a cable car, or a street car, at a table — being mad or laughing but, somehow, never in the way of each other. Sticking forks in each other’s plates, reaching for each other’s drinks, interrupting, walking silently single file through narrow passageways. Just like in the olden days, when we had to hold hands crossing the street.

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This is the building where my parents brought me right after I was born. They had a room in a communal apartment here. The window is the third one from the top, right over the center of the arch.

Our neighbor across the hall was academician Victor Kondratiev whom my dad worked with — I guess this is how my parents got a room in this building — my dad is a scientist. Kondratiev’s daughter, Marina, was a principal dancer with Bolshoi. To this day, she is considered the best Giselle.

One story from those days that reached me was Kondratiev’s housekeeper concerns. She made friends with my mom and when they had tea in our kitchen, Raisa Borisovna kept complaining:

— And she is jumping, and jumping, and jumping! All day long! At the barre! And not eating anything at all! Not even a teaspoon of caviar! How’s she gonna live?

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We passed my first home on our way to our last dinner in Russia with my dad. Is that why he picked that Ukrainian Restaurant “Taras Bulba”?

Nothing is more comforting and warming, no memories are stronger than those of food. It is so associated with home and childhood, it generates such strong feelings and brings back the most unexpected memories. 

When I first landed on American soil, I was so excited for things that were unavailable to me in my previous life. Thanks to Tom, who is so openminded in every way and so generously shares everything that excites him, my palate has expanded. And settled. And suddenly – after all these years — this palate of mine is calling back for the old and familiar. 

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At the restaurant, we went all out Russian one more time. Here’s some pickled mushrooms we started with. Generally, when I see the word mushroom on a menu — I order. Especially, when chanterelles are involved.

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Charlotte got pelmeni — a Siberian version of the international concept “meat wrapped in dough” a.k.a. dumplings, a.k.a. ravioli, a.k.a. pierogi, a.k.a. samosas.

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Lizzie ordered an herb crusted pork with straw fries.

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Lamb tongues in cream sauce — I couldn’t pass that.

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Tom took his chance with home-style roasted beef in a clay pot. I have these pots at home now — to comfort his inner Russian self.

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Dad went safe with duck in a fruit confit. And the food was excellent!

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The morning of our departure.

An epic hole in our balcony wall. In the fall of 1988, when as a prodigal daughter I returned to my parents’ apartment out of unsuccessful marriage with a baby in tow, my dad cut this hole for little Anton. He wanted Aton to be an equal member of the society and independently observe life in our courtyard — our little world.

You have to know my dad to visualize the procedure. Firmly holding Anton’s chin, dad stuck Anton’s nose to the plastic wall, made a mark for his height, and cut around that mark.

Dad’s grip of the chin is firm. I experienced it first hand when, after every meal, religiously, he would squeeze me between his knees with that iron grip on my chin and go around every single tooth with a toothpick. No one had heard about flossing back then in Russia. Dental hygiene was narrowed down to brushing once before bedtime. Not us. Dad stood over me and my brother overseeing brushing and flossing three times a day — he would come from work for lunch to do that.

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Thirty two years later, the hole is still there and Anton’s baby sisters are checking out the perspective.

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We’re packed and the car is loaded. Bitter and sweet when you have two homes and feel strongly about them both. One gave me wings. The other one let me fly. My favorite people — they care about me and keep me on my toes. And I love them more than my life.

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Thoughts and memories kept me up all the way to New York and the flight did not feel long or exhausting at all.

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Greenland — it’s always on my way.

Winter? Summer? Sunrise? Sunset? East? West? Where am I going?

Either way — it’s home.

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… over the bubbles of the Earth …  

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