Dear Russia

2 Nov

Dear Russia,

I think of you as a cold kind of place. I mean, clearly you are not, geographically, located in the tropics, and there’s that whole piece of you which is Siberia, but you must have sunny days. I’m just not very good at picturing it. I think of you as cold and dark, under a cover of clouds always. And when I hear that St. Petersburg is beautiful, with light-filled squares, I still don’t see sunshine. I see bright white sky, and silver-gray cobblestones, and red brick absorbing and softening the glare.

Anyway, I feel like the cold and vodka and the lines of people that go on forever due to the stores always being out of everything must inspire great and tragic art. So I was excited to go see The Cherry Orchard when it was performed at my college, and promptly fell asleep during the first act. Kind of like when I was nine and home sick, and my mom rented Doctor Zhivago because she figured it would keep me busy for the entire six hours I would normally have been at school because it is the longest movie in the world.

What else? Some of my other images of you come from Anastasia, which I always think of as a Disney movie but is not. And the Cold War, which by now feels sort of comforting and hushed, an ordering of chaos that was mad by definition but structured nonetheless. It still weirds me out to see Middle Eastern enemies in James Bond and Iron Man, because that’s not right… And yet, I never really did think of Russians as enemies at all– because in Fiddler on the Roof, you see, everyone just wanted to get married and sing songs and dance. Bonus points for finding the rich man. Plus, how great are those fur hats you get to wear. I wish I could pull those off; my ears are always cold in the winter.

I guess another source of my information isThe Translator by John Crowley, which I loved, because it’s set in the sixties, and this girl, Kit Malone, falls in love with a Russian poet, who gets taken away one day because he was Russian and a poet so obviously even though he was just peacefully teaching a college class in a small Midwestern town and reading poetry with Kit Malone, was suspicious. I grew up reading my mother’s 1950’s novels, where all Irish Catholic girls had the last name Malone and a nickname seemingly unrelated to their full name (Kit from Katherine maybe?) and usually had freckles. Anyway, it’s a great book and I wholeheartedly recommend it because it would help you understand at least some of my impressions of you

Also, my friend’s little brother is learning Russian so he can be prepared when you become the next major superpower. That doesn’t sound right to me, but what do I know? Clearly I do not fully understand you.

Maybe I’ll watch Rocky and Bullwinkle to get more information.

Respectfully,

MM

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