I never got around to publishing this last week. I’m working on something about my time in St. Petersburg now, but my feelings are so different from what I wrote last week that I feel this needs to be published before I write anything else. 

St. Petersburg is so beautiful, yet so sad.

The thought of coming back to St. Petersburg for the first time in eight years is making me physically ill. When I think of landing at Pulkovo on Thursday, my fingers shake and my stomach begins to churn.

St. Petersburg is so beautiful, yet so sad.

Dina tells me that my view of Russia is broken. In the 90s, I was forced to see watch my country crumble around me. But I wasn’t there when it began to pull itself back together in the 2000s. When I think back to St. Petersburg, all I remember is cerulean paint chipping off of walls and the smell of piss in the alleys.

And yet –  despite it all –  to me, St. Petersburg is the most beautiful place in the world. It’s a city that I feel proud to have been born in, but a city that I don’t have any concrete memories of. When I come back next week it will be only as a tourist.

St. Petersburg is so beautiful, yet so sad.

When I am in Russia, I am never myself. I play a charade of who I feel like I am supposed to be – an obedient granddaughter, a subservient niece,  a passive observer. A part of this is because I do not know how to behave the right way in Russian civil society, having been brought up somewhere else. But also, I have not the slightest idea about how to express myself. I play the role of the idiot because all of my high-level thinking comes in English – not just the language barrier, but the turn of phrase and the way I use words to describe the world around me.

St. Petersburg is so beautiful, yet so sad.

When I mentioned St. Petersburg to a Swedish friend last week, her only words were “St. Petersburg is a beautiful city, but it’s so sad”. I can’t get those words out of my mind. I guess I’ll see if they are true tomorrow.


1 thought on “Homecoming”

  • I feel a bit lost in your new blog disign. It seems like I’m trying to read all the words at the same time but I can’t do so)) It’s so …i don’t know … minimalistic 🙂

Leave a Reply