a soviet military base in zerbst, a small town in east germany’s sachsen-anhalt. my home of five years and one of the places where i grew up. happy times. mostly. we came there when i was in third grade. everything was so new, so different. i liked it there. for two or three years after we moved out of germany and went to live in russia, i was in a state of denial. lived in a cocoon refusing to accept the reality, which was that we were never going back…
i visited eighteen years later. the base had been abandoned for all those years. the germans have yet to figure out what to do with it, i suppose. i came in january. it had snowed non-stop for a week already and the drive from berlin proved to be a slight adventure. of course, the irony was that it barely ever snowed when i lived there. a little bit like a fairytale where you have to push over obstacles along your way.
what i saw made me feel uneasy. marauded buildings with gaping windows of broken glass, no railings inside. i managed to climb onto the porch at one of the entrances to my building and went inside to see my apartment. it felt eery. there were all kinds of sounds as if something was moving through the building slamming doors, tapping on the raw concrete. the only thing missing was evil giggles. i don’t know whether it was the wind or the fact that i was in the middle of snowed-up nowhere or both but it did freak me out. i went upstairs to take a few photos of what became of our old apartment and then retreated quickly.
i had been anticipating that moment for years, imagined what i would feel, how excited i would be… i shouldn’t have. when it came to the real thing i found myself trying to be emotional but somehow it wasn’t working. i got closure.