Kiev without the politics

I was going to come home and write an epic, gif-laden post about Euromaidan.

Instead I got here, took a look at the New Year’s decorations glittering across the dark distances in this strangely warm winter, and suddenly remembered that I’m a human being.

So I took the time to eat actual meals, deep-condition my hair, and read books well into the afternoon. I had my toenails painted pink and paid a sports therapist who’s a friend of my fitness expert aunt to squeeze my flesh into jelly. I made gallons of raspberry tea for Lev and took him to church on Sunday.

In Buguruslan, my mother-in-law died. My husband and I lay on the couch together and listened to the sound of car tires hissing on the wet pavement. That day, I made a lot of sbiten with brown sugar and brandy. There was nothing comforting to say or to think, aside from the fact that Tatiana’s physical suffering is over.

I did see Euromaidan, and in general had some adventures – Kiev being Kiev means that adventures are inevitable. It was good to see old friends. Everyone is moving on, getting divorced, renovating their apartments, having their second children, hanging around art galleries and being up to no good.

Kiev wore a thick fog around its shoulders for most of the time. The broad expanse of the Dnepr was studded here and there with nearly transparent ice floes that seemed to have arrived from a different country altogether. When everyone went to bed at night, I stayed up with the gray cat in the kitchen, and thought hard about the future that is massing on the horizon now. And then, when I realized that thinking about it was useless, I went to bed and listened to the wind that blows in from the old cemetery at this time of year. I’m used to thinking about it as a dead place, but nowadays we see enormous red squirrels scurrying up and down the crooked trees, and so it’s important to note that even over there, life does go on.

Kiev is my Jerusalem. There are entire groups of people today who are driven nuts by its ragged splendor – and I’m not even sure that I can judge them for it. There is dark energy in the air here, in the water, in the meat and in the honey and milk. If you want to know about the mechanisms that drive Euromaidan – or the opposition to it here – all you have to do is stand very quietly on a street corner at night. Pretty soon, in the din of the city, you will hear the iron gears of history and the flapping of the avenging angels’ wings. Pretty soon, you will understand everything.


8 thoughts on “Kiev without the politics

  1. Congratulations on eating “actual meals”, but you should remember that most people come here for the euromaidan/Moscow stuff and you did kind of let them down with this post. I won’t stop checking out this blog but your personal writing isn’t that interesting. Sorry.

  2. I”m terribly sorry to hear about your mother-in-law, my thoughts are with you, your husband and the rest of the family. I for one don’t come to this blog solely for the Euromaidan/Moscow stuff, I come here for everything, but especially your personal writing. I enjoyed this piece on returning to Kiev,especially, and can sense the bitter,sweetness of it. I’d also like to wish you Merry Orthodox Christmas and I hope the new year bring you good fortune and much joy.

  3. Natalia, I’m so sorry for your loss. This is a lovely piece, and I always appreciate the personal ones. I do love the Nativity hymns and I hope you had a nice time at church. Have you been attending regularly? I haven’t been since last Pascha, and miss the smells and sounds.

  4. Thanks, guys. I’m a very irregular church-goer. And taking Lev there is a huge deal, because he’s so small. But we manage, sometimes. He likes the singing a lot.

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