Well, that day is finally here. I'm going home today. Or at least I think I'm going home today. When leaving Russia I have a policy of never making definitive declarations until the plane has lifted off. But to be on the safe side, I never celebrate until the plane touches down on American soil. After all, it's better not to get your hopes up in case Russia decides to have one of her "moments" right at the time you think you are leaving.
I'm too deeply embedded in my experience here to be able to reflect on it properly at the moment. Besides, I haven't finished packing the Lenins either. So reflections will have to wait a bit.
Of course, this brings up the question of the future of this blog. On the one hand, the blog isn't much without Russia's participation. She has provided all the material, while I simply relay it to a (semi) captivated audience. I somehow doubt that "My Life" from a sleepy college town will be quite so intriguing as dogs that ride the metro. Or pickles. I suppose I could convert to Russia punditism and comment on more contemporary political issues, but there are plenty of people doing that already. Plus, I have a dissertation to get writing.
But not to despair. I do still have a few stories waiting in reserve and I hope to put them on (digital) paper eventually. For example, I never got around to writing about the vendors on Arbat that assault you with "fyuh khats from reeel minks!" ("fur hats from real mink," except it's really muskrat, not mink). Or the guillotine doors of metro cars that put the French Revolution to shame. And the metro turnstile barrier that almost preemtively took the life of my unborn child (if you've been to Moscow, you know what I mean). Oh, plus there's Russia's magically soft roads - so soft and cushy that cab drivers insist that seatbelts are unnecessary.
But even better than these memories from the past is the promise of future stories. It turns out that (for better or for worse) I've received funding to do research for about 6 months next year in Ukraine and Belarus. So, starting in April 2008 Darkness at Noon will begin broadcasting live from Kiev and Minsk. If the Ukrainians and Belarussians are anything like their wacky Russian bretheren, there are sure to be some good stories coming down the line...
In the meantime, check back here occasionally, as I'm sure I'll have some stories about the wonderful process of obtaining a visa to Belarus. Eh, how hard can it be?
In closing, let me just thank all of you who have been dedicated (and semi-dedicated) readers over the past several months. While I don't seek out trouble, there are more than a few occasions when I pushed my boundaries and went a little farther than I'm used to so that I would have something to write for you. I have no doubt that I'm a better person for it and my experiences were that much richer for it. So thanks for prodding me into dark corners and sharing the adventures that come of it.
Oh, and I'd also like to thank all the people who arrive here via Google looking for "Lenins n Things." You have inflated my counter statistics beyond my wildest dreams. I hope you found what you were looking for.