A month has already passed since our arrival back in the States. We’re caught up in papers, making plans for the summer, and 35 degrees fahrenheit is starting to feel cold again. But every once in a while, we find ourselves at peace, daydreaming ourselves back to Russia.
In the golden ring, just north of Rostov, there’s a town called Yaroslavl. It was one of our first trips. It’s an old, old, town- a little over a thousand years old. Even Moscow is younger. Even so, every part of Yaroslavl is still alive. There are bits and pieces of each century scattered throughout town: aristocratic theaters next to Soviet monuments, a folklore themed hotel (complete with sarafan-ed waitresses and valenki-fied wall displays) across from a 12th century Kremlin. The world was alive there. Friends greeted each other in the street. Parents chased snow-suited children through lamppost forests in a park. Of all the time we spent in Russia, nothing felt so much like home.
Sometimes the sun will hit the snow between the academic buildings in just the right way that I can almost feel the cold warmth again, the same buzz of contentment crowding the air. I’ll close my eyes and see the Yaroslavl street where I stood for only a few minutes once or twice, amidst lovers arm in arm and friends deep in discussion, and I’ll wonder if I’ll ever open my eyes again.