Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The End of Apartment No. 50

I’m off to the United States tomorrow, and although I will be returning to Moscow in a month, today is my last day as a resident of Apartment № 50. Before I fly away to San Francisco, there’s the not-so-small task of packing up all my belongings. My spatial reasoning skills are just as poor as ever, and I have finally come to terms with the fact that the two suitcases I arrived with have not been expanding at the same rate as my possessions. Who knew one could amass so many animal print items in just two years?

Animal print not pictured (but animal pictured in bottom drawer)

In addition to leopard print bikinis and zebra print dresses, I’ve also accumulated mementos of my love affair with Moscow. I stumbled upon a dried flower, long forgotten and pressed between the pages of my Moleskine, that took me back to the end of summer. I unearthed a second-hand postcard that shows an actor from my favorite Soviet film, which a friend convinced me to buy when I was helping him haggle for fur at Izmailovo Market in January. I found an employment contract from my brief period of semi-gainful employment this fall—it got thrown out, but I kept the photo of my co-workers and me at the holiday party that clearly captures our employee satisfaction with the open bar. I’ve spent the last few days sifting through winter clothes, books, souvenirs, and the miscellany of life, but I’m still not quite ready to leave.

By tomorrow, I’ll have pared my keepsakes and clothes down to one checked bag and one carry-on, but I have so many more Moscow memories that will be coming back with me, many of which are connected to my time living in Kvartira #50. Though I’m pretty sure Liz and I have both used the phrase “Soviet squalor” to describe our apartment, the place does have a certain je ne sais quoi. Between the faded wallpaper, the closets full of junk left behind by previous tenants, the oven with a mind of its own, the jerry-rigged toilet flush lever, and the domovoy under the bathtub, Apartment № 50 has charm—or at least a strong Russian personality. Much as I will appreciate the American luxuries of window screens, dryers, thermostats, fire alarms, and stoves that aren’t prone to gas leaks, I’m sad to be leaving. I’m going to miss the impromptu gatherings in our kitchen, Dima’s cultural lessons, Belka’s mood swings, Liz’s never-ending supply of wit and wine, and even our freezer full of bloody Kazakh meats. These things all made our apartment feel like home, even though I was halfway around the world and smack in the middle of Moscow. So here’s to Dima, Liz, Belka, and all the good times in Apartment № 50, the best little hovel in Russia.

Goodbye, Russian Roommates.

Goodbye, Russian cat.

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