Контент 16+ In my last blog, just over a week ago, I wrote on the subject of “Change”. I guess for me a lot has changed recently. I finally decided to leave Moscow once and for all and come to live in the Bulgarian village of Bliznatsi. Retirement is the last thing on my mind, but to me, the unthinkable finally came to pass: going from Moscow seemed the best thing to do. The finest prolonged experience of my life had crested, climbing to a wonderful zenith, and finally started to decline into gray slush, as on a wintry street. And for all the love I held in my heart, I had begun to see that hard truth of Russian life.
Yet Russia will always be my true home, and this why I am not really leaving it as such, but rather taking it with me. So many of my students will remain as students on Skype, my wife is Russian, we mostly watch Russian TV, and practically all of our friends in and about Varna are Russian. So I haven’t really gone anywhere; I am really just living in the Moscow ‘oblast’. Anyway, that’s the way I choose to look at it. Facing the facts has never been my long-suit !!
Besides, the funny idea had crossed my mind that in Moscow the only time I saw most of the people I knew (excluding the shop assistants in the magazine and folks walking their dogs near my home) were during English lessons, and that usually only amounted to once a week, twice at most. Hell, I decided, I could get just as used to looking at them through a computer screen as though the dull air of an office. And, as for my so-called ‘best friends’ — I saw them even less. Maybe twice per year. This seems to be a common thing in Moscow. So…I mused, if I never really saw these people, if they were simply emotional crutches who provided the illusion of companionship and support, and who were, in reality (like me) too busy to be available, what difference would it make if I were living in Moscow or on the moon? In this day and age, the computer or smartphone will solve all problems.
That’s why there were no sad goodbyes from my side. That surprised me. Hey, I am really a sentimental guy, brimming with nostalgia. In my blogs, when I get to telling old tales about my life, wandering back into a gallery of ghosts, then it hits me — the long, long rose-and-thorn path I have come by. Then my cheeks grow hot, and old music begins to play. Yet if in Moscow I achieved my greatest happiness and finest successes in life, Moscow also taught me how to say goodbye without much emotion. So Moscow does not believe in tears and Russian mentality does not deal in sentimentality.
In Moscow, people hide their hearts. And this is a shame because very often those hearts are huge and full of love. However, the modern mega-city works against any illusion of fidelity or permanence, and it is good to get that understood. So people meet, become ‘çolleagues’, do the ‘team’ bit, dissolve and go. Businessmen grab what they can and disappear. Lovers come and lovers go. Better to try and hold onto the wind. So out of the million people that the sullen gales and slush blow your way, there remain just a few who are really your friend. I know who they are, and they know who they are too.
Finally, as the pink cloud of coming to the great Russia of my youth’s imaginings at last turned to an unshakable gray above my head, as I became aware of the deadly realities of Russian history, the seemingly compulsive and almost compulsory corruption of Russian government — as I saw the crushing vicissitudes of financial stress afflicting Russian professionals (often my students) as they were suddenly fired in mid-life just because some horses’ ass of a new ‘general director’ came on board and decided to shitcan the whole staff and replace them with his buddies; when I saw again and again the stu-fucking-pidity of the Duma and attendant bureaucracy; when I realized that the government here was only about self-preservation and cared nothing for the people, when I saw that nothing in Russia had really changed since Gogol wrote ”Dead Souls”, and it was never ever, ever going to improve….well, that is when I started thinking, “You know what? I have a beautiful wife and two wonderful dogs waiting for me in a village where the sun actually shines and the air is breathable without risking lung cancer or tuberculosis…”
Yet really, being the type of guy I am, bad government and even potential lung cancer meant nothing as long as the party was going on full blast. So the real reason I left is because I understood that the party I had found myself invited to was breaking up and coming to a close. The best group of people I ever met in my life were in a building in Kurskaya 8 years ago when the SNOB project was newly in force, and was located in the same workspace as a health orientated TV channel called “Jivi”. I somehow came by a private student there and the next thing you know I was giving lessons to almost everyone. Super, clever, brilliant, beautiful people. I loved them the way I have never loved anybody else in similar circumstances. But now it’s eight years later and those people, like me, have changed: grown older, married, had children, divorced, deepened into life amid relationships that could not possibly have included me, faded, brightened, evolved, declined, as it were — into the vagaries of distant life, the long cycle. Many of them I keep contact with. But the magic time is over. I don’t want to look for another crowd to do it with again. For all my desperate energy and passion, I am too old to seek that now.
It is amazing, utterly amazing, therefore, that after all the days and nights and escapades, the wins and the losses, the flashing eyes of unforgettable women, either in bed or in metro windows, the beer and laughter, and the homeless drifting along the streets, the winos dying in the corners — all that inexpressible beauty and unspeakable grief — after ten years of that — one simply boards an airplane on a snowy December morning, takes off into the mist , among bumpy clouds, and grows sleeping, whispering to oneself, “Wow, what was all that about?”
===Eric Richard Leroy===