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Posts tagged hometown

today’s post is really low-fi: photos taken with an old soviet KIEV camera in spb. somehow, the feel of grainy, blurry film imagery suits that city just right…


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!

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.