The Farewell and the Return / Прощание и возвращение
Well, moyi druz’ya, I believe this will be my last post. Or, at least, my last full post. I haven’t forgotten about the song…it’s still being mixed and mastered.
I’ve been back in the U.S. for almost a month now. I didn’t write about this sooner intentionally, because now I can write a better description of what it is like to readjust.
I must confess that returning to the U.S. and readjusting to life here was far, far more difficult than adjusting to Russian life when I first arrived. My culture shock there was fairly minimal. (Still there, but not nearly as bad as I would have thought.) It’s the re-entry shock that is giving me trouble.
Leaving was so hard. I felt like my heart was going to break. My neighbor and friend Natalia graciously agreed to drive me to the airport at 4 AM (my flight departed at 6). My dear friend Katya met us there to see me off. I couldn’t hold back my tears, because I knew I was leaving my second home. Krasnoyarsk—indeed, Russia—had grown on me. Grown to be a part of me. But I knew I had people waiting for me back in the U.S.
Of course, it was wonderful to see my family again. It was a tearful reunion at the Miami International Airport baggage claim, where my mom and sister had come to help me get the luggage to the car. (Trust me, I had a lot of it! I had even sent things home in packages by Russian post before I left.)
I had a great party two days after I arrived, thanks to my wonderful sister Jen and her planning. So many of my friends came, even friends from out of town, so that they could see me. I was so happy to see them after such a long time. And I loved reuniting many of them in the same place, since most of them were fellow Novo-Collegians and friends with each other. (For you non-New College folks, that’s what we call ourselves…even the alums!)
But apart from that, there have been difficulties. My best friend Alex’s father passed away (the same Alex who passed away herself two and a half years ago) after a long battle with lung cancer. I didn’t expect that within a week of my return, I would be attending a funeral for someone I loved dearly, who was a part of a family I was so close to. But I am glad that his suffering is over.
I have returned to my part-time job with a representative in the Florida House of Representatives. I love my job there. But there is still the question of what is next. Will I get a call back from the full-time positions I’ve applied to? What will come of the graduate school applications I will be sending out? I have no idea.
Part of what makes this so incredibly difficult is the uncertainty.
I really do not know what comes next. But I guess it is the uncertainty that brings potential. There is so much potential in the uncertain. It’s good because there is a lot of choice. It’s bad because there is a lot of choice. What will be best?
I suppose I will just have to trust that I will make the right decisions in the end.
I KNOW I made the right decision in going to Russia. I was apprehensive about going away for so long, but in the end, it was probably the best thing I have ever done for myself. And I know I impacted others in a positive way and represented my country positively but fairly.
I miss my students. I miss my friends. I miss life there. It was always so interesting and there were so many things that I could do there that would not be possibly in the U.S. (Like recording in a legitimate recording studio! Unless you really know someone, it’s really expensive to do in the U.S.) Things there were so spontaneous, so fluid, unlike here in the States.
But it is not all bad being back in the U.S. It should never be forgotten that the U.S. has so many opportunities as well…these are simply opportunities of a different breed. Every country, every way of life, brings chances and opportunities that are unique. I have come to learn and appreciate that immensely.
I hope, dorogiye chitateli [dear readers], that I have been able to at least give you a glimpse of what I have experienced. I hope that you understand how important it is to travel so you can learn about the world. We are all on this planet together. If you live in a house with many rooms but you only stay in the same room all the time, you will never know what is in the other rooms. What views to the outside will you be missing? What treasures are hidden there? What people live in those rooms? You will never know until you dare to see it for yourself.
By doing so, you will open your heart to the world. As I realized that that was precisely what I was doing, I became aware that my heart was starting to encompass not just the world, but the entire universe that allows us to exist and live as we do.
I am all too aware that there are many negative, evil things that exist in this world. But if people learn to open their hearts…that will go such a long way to quieting the bad that seems to thrive nowadays.
I think this will give me more compassion in how I will approach my future. I want to go into international development in the context of conflict resolution. In other words, reconstruction of war-torn societies, helping people—survivors—get back on their feet and find a purpose to their lives. To make their world a safe place. The sad truth is that there are people who have never lived in a world that was safe for them.
But I digress. My point is that I have learned to take in other people, other cultures, other ways of life, into my heart and make it my own; for this, I urge you to do the same.
To my students and friends in Russia who might be reading this, I hope you know that you have changed me for the better by showing me your city, your country, your way of life, and, ultimately, accepting me into your world. Thank you for hearing me when I spoke of my own city, my country, my way of life, and watching as I tried my best to give you a glimpse of my world.
I know I have stated this before, but it needs repeating. Acceptance is what we need in this world, not simply tolerance. Tolerance alone will make no progress toward understanding. It is acceptance that is necessary.
Walk a mile in another’s shoes and you will see things you never realized were there. (My sister, of course, once quipped that it means that you’re a mile away and you have their shoes…hopefully, they’re a nice pair!)
Ya vsekh vas lyublyu i ya zhelayu udachi, zdorov’ya i schast’ya. [I love you all and I wish you luck, health, and happiness.] Thank you for reading this and following my journey to the degree that you could.
For my fellow world travelers…schastlivovo puti! [Happy trails!]