To the Arctic and back. Not many can say that, but also many can. Because it’s just another place – foreign to me but home to many. So I quickly abandoned naïve notions of barren tundra and nothingness and unforgiving weather. Because, going on with lost gloves, the weather forgave me and I returned to Peter with blood flowing through both hands and all fingers.
Murmansk is strange, though. A Soviet star of nautical ventures and industry, its Soviet stamps are still smoldering while those of other Russian cities have more or less tempered. Maybe the Communist rally that I stumbled onto on November 7th – revolution day – makes me say that, but probably not. It’s simply something I felt in the hammer-and-sickle-clad buildings, in the gray and angular memorials, in the comradeship and friendliness of the people. An older woman chased after me as I boarded a bus. Catching her breath, she pulled the bus doors open to tell me that she had made a mistake when giving me directions. I know a lot of people who wouldn’t think twice about me once I’d be out of their sight, and none of them are Russian.
Final thoughts: it’s a nice place, but a lonely place. I’m not sure what I mean by that.
I tried my best to document it in a way that would do it justice. And I think that if you’d find yourself in Murmansk in November, this is what you’d see:
Much to my surprise, it is very cold here. It’s a face-burning kind of cold. When I remove my glove to change my music, the wind stings my fingers and it feels like my blood is freezing. Then I put the glove on and I feel the ice-crystal blood fill my extremities once again. And then my hand swells with heat. The winter curse of a music lover. But I appreciate all of these things because it means I’m in Russia and snow is falling and winter is coming and it’s cold, but so what? How terrible it would be to not have any discomfort, no? The night and the snow shut the city up. Everything gets quiet, apart from the soothing sound of…