Sunday, December 9, 2007

December 9 – Day 83

There is so little time left here. From this point on every experience will be the last – the last free day, the last class, the last performance. Last night I spent an hour pouring over a map of the city trying to decide what was the most unmissable thing left to see. All I really wanted to do was rest but instead I planned a full day of sightseeing with a few museums, St.Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin on my list. I was resigned to go alone but pleasantly pleased when Jenna decided to join me so early this morning. It was grey and snowy but the air actually felt clean and I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic. Chances are I will never again return to this place and even if I do by then it might be a very different country. I want to remember this place just as it is, with all its flaws and idiosyncrasies, and all the confusion that makes it special. Nothing is predictable here so it was no surprise when our plans got derailed. We ended up getting turned around and went to the wrong museum and then wandered aimlessly until we ended up at St. Basil’s hours before we were supposed to meet Eric. We passed the time by strolling through GUM, sipping lattes and trying on $1000 boots. It was so relaxed and enjoyable – happy accidents, they call them, when life works out just as it should despite your best laid plans. We left the mall just after the sun had set behind clouds and the image of Red Square was spectacular, all lit up with holiday lights and a sea of colorfully-clad Muscovites ice skating through the temporary rink. Eric met us in front of St. Basil’s just as my fingers started to go completely numb and once inside we realized there would be no respite from the cold. The architectural marvel was designed with an intricate ventilation system so that it maintains a constant temperature of four degrees Celsius. It was a chilling sight to stand in the cavernous palace and see the view of Moscow from a tiny tower window. The frescos were so magnificent I could see how it would be easy to believe the legend of Ivan the Terrible blinding the architects so that they could never again create something so beautiful. By the end of the tour the cold had worn me ragged and I needed a rest and a warm drink before meeting the rest of the NIU boys for our final group dinner. Over the last few months, every important event that has happened to our group has somehow involved Il Patio and it seemed only fitting that we make one more appearance to toast our goodbye. I think Jenna was hoping for a more sentimental evening but with five twenty year old guys that is difficult to accomplish. Instead we just played silly list making games (who would you rather {fill in the blank} and other inappropriate topics of conversation) and Jenna and I shared sideways glances, reminding each other how lost we would be without another female to keep us sane. In the end the evening was far from maudlin but it was the only way I think it could be. There is time left for sadness and weepy goodbyes. For now I think it is best to think less about the end and try to enjoy what time we have left.