Thirty days from yesterday I'm coming home! I'm really looking forward to seeing family, friends, and a certain furry little monster very soon! And I won't lie, I'm also looking forward to some creature comforts and everyday things; here are five of them:
- Coffee. (Is anyone surprised about this?!)
- Pizza. Russian pizza is gross. There, I said it. Eastern Europeans don't get pizza. Sorry, but it's true.
- Clothes dryers. Many people have washing machines in their apartments, but dryers are a rarity. Apparently they're considered a luxury. Well, call me a princess, I don't care. I'd be happy if I never had to hang another piece of wet clothing over a drying rack ever ever again in my life.
- Lines. I miss American etiquette for standing in line. Dear Russians, Please wait behind me if I'm standing in line and don't pretend to be clever and slip in front of me, even if you are an 80-year-old grandmother. And please don't stand so close to me. That extra inch of space won't actually get you to the front of the line any faster, it just forces us to stand agonizingly close to one another while we wait.
- Recycling. Capitalism brought a whole lot of garbage to Russia. And I'm not talking about the absolute worst of American culture that made its way here. (Speaking of which, have I told you about the Russian Married with Children and Everybody Loves Raymond knock-offs?) I'm talking about the excessive material waste and ill-fated attempts to recycle. Russia's really done a 180 in this respect. People used to re-use things to a painstaking degree (largely out of necessity) and many Russians of the older generations still do (I had a house mother who sifted through my trash when I was on a study abroad program here several years ago). But Russian youth are more like 1980's Americans. All consumption all the time.
This isn't to say there aren't things about Russia that I'll miss. One of these things is the Russian Orthodox church. This probably seems odd to you, considering how unreligious I am. But it's not the rituals of the church or any religious beliefs that I'll miss, but rather the form of the church itself. I like the way it punctuates the landscape - whether it be urban Moscow or rural Russia - adding a bit of history, peace, and mystery. The churches are especially nice complements to a white and wintry Russia. (A winter which is beginning to feel everlasting. Like a gobstopper.)
I've also grown to appreciate Russian icons. Say hello to Orthodox Jesus:
A note on Russian orthodoxy. It is part of Eastern Christianity. Western Christianity (i.e. Catholicism) and Eastern Christianity split off from one another in the year 1054 because the East would not recognize the primacy of the pope (and because of some disagreements over unleavened bread and a few other things). Russians aren't the only Orthodox Christians, the Greeks were first. Now there are Georgian, Serbian, Bulgarian, etc. Orthodox Churches.
People of other faiths reside in Russia, for example Muslims and Jews, but the country itself is steadfastly pravoslavny or Orthodox Christian. While I haven't been inspired to convert, I'll miss admiring the churches and icons. But I definitely won't miss the pizza.