Monday, November 27, 2017

My Last Day in Russia

It's been a while since I looked at the photos I still have to edit, and when I opened Lightroom today I realized these are the last of my Russia photos. I could have sworn I had more, but I was mistaken. This realization came with a few tears but it had to end at some point. My last day in Russia was bittersweet. I was ready to be back in the USA for the first time in two years, but I didn't want to leave Russia for good. I woke up early, finished the last of the cleaning and packing, and waited for my landlady to arrive. A and I gave her the keys and I said good-bye to what was "home" for the last two years. Actually, I didn't have much of a chance to reminisce because every thing happened so fast that it felt like a blur getting into the taxi and driving away. A and I spent my last night at the Hilton Garden Inn Riverside. A said I could have just stayed at his apartment, but I decided to splurge as a going away present for him as well since he loves staying at hotels and I never really got him anything for his birthday.
After we checked in A had to leave to buy food because his friend was going to be staying with him the next day. I hung out a little bit, met a friend who had artwork she made for me, and then met Anton downstairs when he came back. We had lunch at Svoya Companya, and then walked around Ufa one last time. There was an area near our hotel with a lot of wooden houses that I wanted to take photos of so we wandered around the streets.
Anton bought this liquid stuff that apparently cats love, and every time we saw a street cat we tried to get it to come over and smell the liquid he bought. I swear it wasn't anything harmful, it was some natural medicine because Russians love natural remedies. Unfortunately, most of the cats we saw were pretty jittery and didn't want anything to do with us. Must have been that side of Ufa because the ones that were by our apartments were always friendly.
My memory seems to have failed me because I don't remember what we did when we got back to the hotel. I think we probably drank some tea. There was a street dog laying on the grass outside of the hotel and eventually Anton convinced me to go see it. For the end of June it was still really cold and I had changed into sweat pants and was not looking my best. I think the dog was deaf because we got really close to it. I warned Anton to be careful because I didn't want him spooking the dog. Eventually the dog got spooked and ran away and I only ended up with one photo of him walking away.
It rained a lot before I left and I was lucky enough to see a rainbow on my last day. We spent the rest of the light walking around, and we stopped in a store to buy more tea since we drank all the free stuff we got. We ended the evening sitting by the window of our hotel, drinking tea, and I talked to my mom on the phone for a little bit. Neither of us fell asleep early and I think we both got about 3 or 4 hours of sleep since I had to be up early the next morning. Funny story, we ordered a taxi and when we finally got downstairs it wasn't there. Another taxi driver asked if we were waiting for a taxi and we said we were but we weren't going to where he was going. Anton eventually called the driver and it turned out some girl got in the wrong taxi. We made it to the airport on time, and I was waved off by some of my friends as well.
This was a hard post to write. Russia seems like a dream. I never felt any reverse culture shock. Actually, I adjusted with no problem - but I miss Russia. Russia feels more like home than the US. It's also hard because A and I broke up (the distance was just too hard) and he actually moved from the apartment I knew him to live in. It just feels like things are so different now. I do plan on visiting Russia many more times in the future, but I don't think it'll ever fill the whole in my heart for the experience I had living there. I wish I could say I will move back, but I absolutely love my job here in the USA. It's hard when you hate living somewhere but you love the job. For now, I'm trying to enjoy my time in the USA. Who knows where I'll be in the future.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Spring Grove Cemetery

Back in July when I visited Haley in Cincinnati she graciously packed her kids up in the car and took me to Spring Grove Cemetery. In the spirit of Thanksgiving I must say I am not only thankful for a friend who will go to a cemetery with me but one who will pack up her small children to go too. Spring Grove is very similar to Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, but with more Civil War gravestones which my history-loving heart thought was just so cool. We first stopped at the Civil War section and got out to walk around. We walked towards a pond and the roots on the tree were growing in such crazy directions.
I didn't have any particular part of the cemetery I wanted to see (because I'm terrible at planning). We did a little walking, but then it was just getting too hot for the girls and, let's be honest, me. I don't handle heat well. Haley decided that we would just drive around and if I saw something that caught my eye we'd stop and I'd take pictures of it. There was so much to see and look at. If you wanted to do the cemetery right it would take more than a day to do. From the road we saw some pretty cool grave stones. At one point I was the only one who got out, which I was surprised the girls lasted as long as they did! Cora kept asking about the zombies which found kind of hilarious.
The older tombstones were my favorite, obviously. Newer ones just don't have the same appeal. Below, we came across a child who had died, and Cora and I got out to look at it. I'm not quite sure about the face she's making in the photo because she wasn't scared of it. There were coins left on it and she kept asking why we couldn't take it. She was also asking about why a child had died. What do you say to a 4 year old about this? I don't remember my answer, but it was probably something along the lines of what I usually do: ignore the question. As we were leaving we almost got caught up in a funeral procession. I was glad Haley was driving because I become a mess when I drive if I feel I have no control over the situation. After a few minutes she was able to back her car down a steep hill and we were free of it. My anxiety was a little high for a moment.
It was so hot that day, but it was worth the trip. Have you ever visited Spring Grove Cemetery?
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