I was reading http://tradingplacesglobal.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/finding-home-our-soul-cultures/ earlier and it hit a place I’d thought I’d left behind: that of a place really getting under the skin and burrowing in deep. And places really do do that.
For me, though, it’s not quite as much the place as the people.
(Do I live for others…? Philosophical self-examining question of the day. I think I do sometimes, and I don’t always like it…)
Anyway, five years ago I was ready to leave St. Petersburg, Russia after two stints of a year each there. I was nomadic in mind and sentiment, not motivated enough to put in the work to become truly fluent in the language, and was happy enough to muddle through at intermediate level, understanding about 70% of what was said, but I missed my family in the UK. So I left, and oh! how it ached. It was like remembering a lost love…a true ache of heart and mind. And it ached for years.
So I returned in the summer, with my Russian better than ever, but my friends had grown up, had families, and the wild abandon with which we raced round that beautiful, almost sublime city had vanished, to be replaced by wailing babies in bars and very early nights. And I was left in a place (which I knew better than my own two left feet) to ‘have a holiday’. With the exception of one utterly wonderful girl (another wandering Gemini; like two peas in a pod), my Peter Pan state of mind no longer fitted into that city, and the heartache turned to a sadness as I saw the sights as a tourist alone, and still felt interminably empty. What I should have done is found more people, or been glad of meeting the babies, but the truth is, I liked my friends as they were, and they had changed irreversibly.
So yes, St. Petersburg no longer makes me ache (good thing) but it hasn’t yet been replaced by anywhere else. Any suggestions?