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alina

a few years ago i was visiting my friends in greece for just one day. the weather was perfect, the water so milky and warm that leaving it didn’t seem appropriate. we laughed. we played. we caught up on each other’s news. whatever we did that day was connected to the sea. it was as if it was our friend and we were happy to be around each other.  it was only one day but i will remember it always because it was the day when everything was simply right.

last july i visited a dear friend of mine from st. petersburg who at the time lived in the bavarian town of passau. it was a short but perfect weekend that we lightheartedly dubbed ‘pastoral’. we rode bikes through a forest and along a river to reach a farm where we drank apple cider and ate fresh bread with a pâté spread. it smelled strongly of cow dung throughout the journey. the weather was very hot and we took a swim in a lake. despite hordes of people there it was quiet. i enjoy quiet. obviously, it was one of the best weekends i’ve ever spent with a friend.

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tomorrow i am going to one of my late hometowns – saint-petersburg. four and a half hours by train from moscow and i’m there, greeted and hosted by a good friend. it took me many years to straighten out my relationship with the city. i hated it and the city hated me. i didn’t have friends and felt out of place. factor in my yearning to go back to germany and you’ll probably begin to see how unsettling it was for me to live there.

then, one day one year things changed. i went to america on a scholarship for a year and came back a different person. i suddenly had a community. i had friends. i got my first real job where i was with people whom i respected and who understood and esteemed me. i also started aikido and was almost literally devoured by it. i met more interesting people through practices, the kind i’d never dealt with before, and i liked it that i could find common ground with them. little by little, that’s how my coexistence with the city evolved. emotional ties sprang up. i became more at ease with my environment and began to see the good things in it. and while i never came to fall in love with st.petersburg, the city has certainly woven a nest in my heart.

that said, i’m off for a weekend of typical spb white nights activities (typical for me, anyway) like walking along canals after midnight with a friend, going to a beach on the gulf of finland, enjoying good company and the warm weather, having red wine, and talking, talking, talking, catching up… cheerio and see you next week!