Hopes, dreams, and broken promises, or, my chronic inability to memorialize my own experiences

First, an update:

On August 27, I’ll be moving to Saint Petersburg to start another English teaching gig. I’ll be working as an ESL intern at Smolny College, a small liberal arts school that is subsidiary to both Saint Petersburg State University and Bard College in New York. The work is part-time, so I’ll also be giving private English lessons and, hopefully, pursuing a side-internship or research project. The position lasts a year, so I’ll need to decide relatively quickly whether or not I want to apply to graduate school or set down roots in Piter for a while. All this is coming very soon, and I’m going to try to blog about it.

I kinda failed at blogging last year. I recently re-read my old posts. I’m so glad I have at least them—so many details, impressions, and emotions had already vanished from my memory. And so I’m all the more regretful that I didn’t write more, because if this blog is the only memorialization of my year in Murom, it’s pretty tragically incomplete.

I ended up leaving Murom earlier than planned for personal and emotional reasons. I don’t want to go too far into it, but it was the right choice and I feel healthier, happier, and more ready to carry on than I would have otherwise. It’s not worth trying to summarize my final three months in one post, but throughout my conversations with friends/family, I’ve realized that I’ve been particularly remiss in leaving out a few anecdotes:

Like the time that my Russian friends brought fireworks to our Thanksgiving dinner because they thought I told them that’s how Americans celebrate it.

Or, that time the circus came to town and they decided to house the lions in a cage directly across from the main entrance of my Institute. It took me two weeks of walking to work in the frozen pre-dawn to the eerie soundtrack lions roaring to realize what was going on.

Or, about the WWII veteran we met on Victory Day who took time during his own holiday to congratulate us on the weather, our beauty, and our youth.

Or, less pleasantly, the time I came home from a faculty seminar discussion about the Ukraine crisis and cried because our political discussions had turned into a personal attack on me.

Or, the other time that I walked home weeping after I had said my last goodbye to the head of my department, Elena Aleksandrovna, and her secretary, Ira. I am still floored by the unexpected devastation of saying goodbye to Ira, a person I only even saw once outside of the department.

I can’t say that I exactly miss Murom or that I’ve been doing an especially good job of keeping up with my friends there. Honestly, I’ve been languishing in home-ness and familiarity while I can. It’s what I’ve needed, and the medicine has done it’s trick. I remember, last year this time I was a ball of dread and anxiety. This year, I can’t wait to get started.

But, I feel the pangs of nostalgia already; if I chose to dwell on the relationships I made, the joys I experienced, on my failures and triumphs last year less superficially, I’d definitely be moved to tears. I’m glad I did it, I’m glad it’s over, and I wish I had a re-do. Life isn’t separated into nine-month chunks, though, and I refuse to arrogantly compartmentalize any relationships I made last year as “People I Met During My Fulbright Year.” The point of doing Fulbright to me was specifically NOT to be a tourist; my presence in Murom was ephemeral, but my friends’, colleagues’, and students’ lives continue on and I will continue to be emotionally and occasionally temporally invested in them.

More to come. Thoughts on what I should re-name my blog in light of my location change?


2 thoughts on “Hopes, dreams, and broken promises, or, my chronic inability to memorialize my own experiences

  1. I was looking through my old posts recently as well and wanted to slap past-me in the face for both writing infrequently and writing stupid things instead of important things. I’m so jealous of your move to Spb though! It is my dream to one day do that *Russian student voice*

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