To Russia With Love: A Letter To St Petersburg


As the russophile that I am, it is remarkable that we only just met last fall.

I was a mess when I found out you were going to be my new home. And I wanted to give you the best version of me, not the weak and spiritless person I was back then.

Unsure of how to seduce you, I thought I would just try to be energetic and positive, and go with the flow. It was clear to me straight away that this was going to be a wonderful love affair.

You made me feel proud to be part of you. You made me feel things I hadn’t been feeling in a long time. I didn’t even need time to understand, comprehend, or get to know you. Veni, vidi, amore.

I was afraid your legendary grey weather would not improve my mental health. And not being used to snow and frost, I feared your winter, too.

But you can only truly be understood by experiencing your cold season. It has to personally be felt, and I was surprised by the level of pleasure it brought to me. Half a meter of snow, temperatures of -25 degrees, freezing winds from the Baltic Sea: you challenged, I accepted.

I just couldn’t get enough of walking your beautiful streets and canals. The part of you that everybody falls in love with is simply too elegant and classy to be stained. It’s okay: I know your raw edges and dirty sides exist – they make you even better. Perfection is boring, I keep believing that.

You gave me new friends, new energy, and new joie de vivre. Whenever I left, I couldn’t wait to return. When I visited your rival, it only reaffirmed my gratitude to call you my home. I laughed at those Muscovites telling me there’s “nothing to do in St Petersburg but drink”.

V Pitere – pit’. Definitely.

We both know they are jealous, Piter. Not everybody can handle your obvious beauty, intellect, and cultural offer. If I were a city, I would feel intimidated too. And even though your country has so much more to offer than just you, you confirmed my russophilia from day one.

It was on your territory that I had my happiest birthday. It was on your Nevsky Prospekt that I had one of the oddest dates I can remember (decent guy asks girl out and takes her to Subway, where he orders beer (for her) and tea (for him). Before he walks her to the metro, he tells her he just wants to “sing one karaoke song, and then we can go”). It was in your gorgeous theatres where I felt like a tsarina, watching ballets and operas. It was during your merciless winter that I realized true friends will come visit anyway, regardless of snow and ice.

It was also in your metro that some disastrous person recently carried out a bomb attack. And though I was in Tbilisi, my other love, my heart and soul wanted to be with you. To express how I feel about you, and to reassure you of my support.

I wasn’t ready to -temporarily- leave you, but it was part of our deal. Until the day of our reunion, I will proudly tell stories about you. I will promote you, not because I feel like I have to, but because it is impossible not to. I will count the days until I can breathe your air again.

I dream about your Neva river, your crass concrete suburbs, your jazz scene, the deformed foetuses on display at your Kunstkamera, your infamous killer icicles, your beautiful metro stations, and your slightly snobby but friendly inhabitants.

You may seriously lack sunshine, but you brought back the light to my life. And for that, I will love you till the end.



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