…Is how I’m going to sum up the last four years or so. It was funny and scary and cool. I became a playwright, and a mother, and I did a lot of journalism of the sort I’d always wanted to do, and I also did a lot of management that tested me in surprising ways and showed me that we’re all human underneath.
Of course, the really crazy thing is that the funny and scary is only just beginning.
In order to properly reflect on the possibility that my life is about to change yet again, I took a few days off from Moscow and went to Kiev with the toddler. Daddy stayed behind to edit his new project. The toddler and I walked around hand-in-hand, he fell asleep on my shoulder in the restaurant, he saw a lion at the zoo and they made eye contact for a long time. Making him his evening tea, I reflected on the fact that This is it and nothing else matters. And putting him to bed at night, I sat on the balcony with a glass of cognac, and watched the marbled skies above the city turn to midnight ash – as I have done many times before.
The grapevine that my late grandfather had planted with a friend still sneaks its way up our building, and birds fly up and pick at the grapes, nearly flapping their wings in your face. In the dark, the overripe pears from the tree that my grandfather also planted drop heavily to the ground. The crickets start up and don’t stop until even the people stumbling home from the bar in the park have all gone home. The stray dogs, at last, have gone. A new concrete fence encircles their old hide-out. I keep hoping that not all of them were killed horribly by the authorities – and that a few, at least, found a good home.
I spent most of this trip envying people who have some sort of illusion of permanence in their lives. I do wonder, sometimes, if they envy people like me. I wonder if anyone ever looks down from the safety of their well-lit apartment at the grimy sidewalk below, and have that twinge of pain that the wanderers have all gone and taken their guitars and stories with them.
Kiev remains itself. Our love affair is complicated but never lacking in passion. I come here searching for answers and find them in the most bizarre places. Some years ago, it was a guy wearing a Primo Levi-inspired t-shirt bearing the phrase, “If not now, when?”
This time around it was this silly photo of me taken by my brother in our kitchen one morning:
I looked at it, and went, “Aha.”
Stop laughing for a sec and think about it. It’s true that you only live once. And even if you don’t – it helps to think this way. When you close the door behind you, when you climb the afternoon skies, when you look over your shoulder in a crowded street and see the eyes that have been watching you all along – it helps to think this way.