To Russia, With Love

We had planned to go to Russia in May. Unfortunately, Stas’ Russian passport didn’t arrive in time. We postponed our trip until August, hoping his passport would arrive in time. It finally did. Next step: visas for the rest of us.

I went to the online visa application. I began completing the questions. The questions were pretty standard, father’s full name, mother’s full name, marriage status. And then came the question that stumped me. List all the countries that you’ve traveled to, by year, for the last ten years. I got my passport out, and looked at all the stamps. And made a list. And sorted it by year. Then filled in the 55 entries of all the countries I’ve been to over the past ten years.

I waited the requisite seven business days and received my passport back, the visa taking up a full page. I studied the Cyrillic letters, somewhat in awe that I’m really going to Russia. Russia!

I’ve wanted to visit Russia ever since we were shown cold war propaganda films in the sixth grade. Of the peasants in the fields, with nothing to eat but potatoes, of citizens lining up outside of GUM department store. When I saw that, I wondered, “What are the Russian children seeing about America? Wonder if any of this is true?”

Russia’s changed since then. And tomorrow I’ll be on a plane, headed to St Petersburg. Russia!