Go West

Last day here is tomorrow. When we were crossing the border into Russia, the officer who was processing the “temporary import” of the car (which, apparently, is a semi-mechanical process, leaving room for a conversation) started a friendly chat with me. During which it came up that I haven’t been back in so many years. He then asked me something that got stuck in my head for the rest of the stay. He said, So, if you were to decide to move countries now, would you have done it again? It was easy to wave off that time, I said, well, ask me again when I go back in ten days or so. But what do I say, if he is there and does ask me again?

Yes, I do feel very familiar, almost “at home” here (whatever the heck that means). Like, at a certain place in the vast subway system, I’d get this “I can’t stand to see this speck of dust for the 10000th time” feeling. The changes that people advertised to me while saying, You won’t recognize the city, – well, most of it is just a thin layer. Yeah, well, you’re not supposed to be drinking beer in public any more – big deal, everybody still does. You know, it’s the same place as it was 20 and 200 years ago, with or without Yandex Taxi or food delivery. Some people see it as a cultural capital, some – as a pit of filth, all depends on the angle, same as 200 years ago.

Would I start looking for a way out of here now? Don’t know, also – doesn’t matter, I think. Let’s see. A 43 year old me with a family of 5 probably wouldn’t have existed, to be honest. A 43 year old me with a smaller family – might have kept dreaming about moving, but you know – who can start a new life at 43? A 20 year old me with a young wife and a kid on the way? (Which is where I was last time)? Man… I do hope I’d’ve been able to see beyond my mobile screen, honestly. Now when half one’s life consists of ordering virtual shit online, it’s easier to be clueless, so I don’t really know what I would have done as a 20 year old in 2019. I guess, the interesting question is what a 43 year old me today would have said to a 20 year old me today. “Run for your life, get out of the building”? Not impossible, to tell you the truth.

I spoke with a 25-ish taxi driver (I think most of them are angels or prophets in disguise). He said, Yeah, the West… you have to decide if you like to live by the rules or not. Holy cow, how can you hit the nail on the head like this as a young person in 2019? Yes, it’s exactly true – again, still, 20 years haven’t changed this! Still, 20 years later, new generation, Google Pay and Yandex Weather – still people think they can break “small rules” and complain about “big rules” not being respected. You happily drive 80 on a 60 street (because they can’t punish you) but you want the system to work and be just. Well…

Yeah, I’d still move. I hope so, anyway.

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