I think I`ve been reading too many book series. The kind that have similar names for all of the books in the series, You know, as in Bared to You, Reflected in You, Entwined in You. Or Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant. And so it goes in the blog: Home new home and Home Cold Home.
It’s been a year since I went home.
This year I was lucky enough to go home again, during the semester break. We were given one week off, but with 2 weekends it bookending the week it amounted to almost 10 days. Still not nearly enough, grateful as I was for the opportunity to go home. Unlike the last time, when I tried to meet everyone and go everywhere, on this trip all I wanted was to stay home, hug my dogs and spend time with my family.
I know I`ve caused some hurt feelings by not contacting some friends or saying no to meeting others, but this was me at my happiest: hanging out with my parents, and my brother, who at 15 is almost a head taller than me, and of course, the puppies.
I really missed snuggling with Sharon and Monica. I gladly tolerated dog hair everywhere for the pleasure of their little warm bodies next to mine
One thing I particularly enjoyed doing was going through old photos, scanning some, laughing at others and reading old letters that my mum wrote to her own mum when my mum was a new mum with two young children (my sister and I) and my grandparents were working as doctors in the Northern town of Noyabrsk, built around oil exploration sites, and I also re-created two photos.
One of my favorite photos of my sister and IThere were a few visits to my grandma, with the obligatory making of forshamk, the herring pate (more on this here).
I did meet some friends – our old gang of friends and my school friend Igor, once my partner in crime, now a family man with a lovely wife and a sweet little daughter. This was one of the warmest evening in my life.
I got lucky with the weather – most of the time. For the first few days it was -5C (23F), extremely mild for January, so I was able to enjoy being outside. There was also lots and lots of snow. We almost got stuck when we drove out into the country side to pick up Monica, who stayed in a kennel while my parents were away. I missed Monica too, but it was nice to have Sharon all to myself. There’s some jealousy and rivalry going between the two dogs, so it’s hard to hug just one of them without the other one getting jealous and barking.
A beautiful Russian church on our way
Our snowy neighborhood. Note the cars covered in snow. If you want to drive in Russia in the winter, you better be prepared to dig out your car in the winter – and, if it get’s below -30, to wake up several times throughout the night to start your car to keep the engine warm, or it won’t start at come the morning.
This guy was digging around the swing, presumable removing the snow so that his child could use it.
We also got some manti – big dumplings with meat, so different from the Kayseri manti, which are so so tiny. We went to a small Uighur cafe, which is famous all over Novosibirsk despite serving only a few dishes and being pretty small, as many great places are.
Weirdly enough, Bruce Willis has been a face of a small Russian bank for a few years now. Since I`ve had a crush on him since I was 14, I welcomed this development wholeheartedly and never miss a chance to walk by the bank and wink at Bruce Willis in the window. I never banked with Trust Bank, but when I went there to change some dollars, I saw that all the bank cards have Bruce Willis on them and now I think I`ll get an acocunt there on my next trip home. Shhh. Don’t say it. Everyone has a celebrity crush; at least mine isn’t Justin Bieber or, worse, Robert Pattinson of the Twilight fame. I also may or may not have taken a copy of every brochure and calendar they have in the bank and added it to my previous year’s collection. So there.
My mum and I spent a very pleasant day at a spa. In the photo below I`m doing something called a ‘cedar barrel’, a popular spa treatment in Russia. Basically, you sit in this contraption, filled with steam and pleasantly smelling of pine and cedar, usually followed by a scrub and/or a wrap and/or a massage. We’ve had all of the above, and a facial to boot. I left the spa floating on air.
As always, leaving was so so hard. It’s such a bitter-sweat experience – reuniting with your family only to leave them a week later, missing them even before you leave but also missing your husband and the life you`ve built together in a different country. I felt like I only just started bonding with my younger brother – I felt like our 15-year age difference was often in the way, but as he’s getting older, it matters less and less. He’s growing to be a very funny and cool young man and I really enjoyed my time with him.
And I didn’t get lucky with the weather the whole time. It got colder and colder until it got to -35C (-31F) in the last few days. I admit, it made leaving just a tiny bit easier, yet I still boarded the plane with tears in my eyes ….