Moscow Episodes, part 1



Soon my new Moscow will stop being imaginary. I have already sensed this packing. I could feel Moscow in the clothes that had been there before as I got them ready to go back. It made me less excited. I fantasized less.



The apartment I live in here belongs to Lydia and will still belong to her after I leave Moscow and it is filled with her things. The décor is vintage 1970s Soviet spinster. Pros: It’s a real period piece, with genuine local color. Cons: It’s ugly and depressing.

Catalogue of décor:

A 1975 radio without a tuner. The model is called “Surprise” which made me wonder if it would choose a new station at random every night. But it only plays one, and on my first night it broadcast American jazz and blues.

A round pelt that I initially mistook for a slice of felled tree. Was it a beaver? Was it a moose? I think of it as the Mystery Muff.

There is a second, smaller Mystery Muff which at first glance seems less mysterious than the first because there is a cardboard silhouette of a sleek antlered mammal mid-leap. But the fur feels coarser than that of any deer I’ve ever patted. How coarse are elk? Do they graze in the former Soviet Union?

There’s a rotary phone, which I expected, having been to Russia before. But this one is the color of lemon sherbet.

A framed photocopy from a book of ancient Egyptian art.



Vladimir Yakovlevich tends to the apartment. When I asked if he’d always lived in Moscow, he readily shared that he was born in 1938 and got evacuated during the war, but his mother stayed behind to look after the family home. When he was three years old, a bomb fell on their two-story, wooden building, causing the building to catch fire and collapse, killing her.



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