Пост обновлен 16 июня 2018 г.
I was born in a very old wooden house - no bathroom or general heating. One winter night something happened to the stove and my first home burned down. This is how my biggest fear began - I’m afraid of being homeless.
After that, we had a tiny room in a “communal apartment” or “communalka” as people call it. Such a concept appeared in the Soviet Union following the Russian revolution of 1917, it was presented as a “new collective vision of the future”. But the future wasn’t bright. Our small apartment was packed with 24 people (five families with kids), numerous cockroaches, bedbugs and rats.
Several years later, my father got a separate apartment in a small town, but shortly after he died. I had problems both in school and in family and after one big argument with my mother, I left home. I wanted to commit suicide, so I thought, if I’m going to kill myself anyways, why not do so after listening to a real organ in Moscow?
So I did this insane thing. I was hitchhiking, squatting, sleeping in railways stations. I had many odd jobs - delivery girl, cleaning lady, actor in crowd scenes at Mosfilm. I also had many hippy friends, most of them have ended up in bad situations - drug addiction, HIV, unplanned pregnancies. Some even died, some by suicide. But I never liked drugs, alcohol and “free” love. I just wanted to live a big city with all the culture. I was an outsider even within the outsiders.
I was tired from a hippy life, but this was the only life available for me. It allowed me to have many things for free - places to sleep, books, concerts, sometimes even food. But I needed more calm and privacy: I tried to get a normal job and failed many times. I was drawing and making a portfolio, it was very naive and people laughed a lot. But I did it and I got my first office job as an illustrator. I was 18 and I was very proud.
Somewhere between different office jobs and rented rooms, I met my first love. At that time he was unemployed student and lived with his parents. He moved to my place and it was the happiest part of my life. Our living was very simple - we never had furniture, our stuff fit into backpacks and we always slept on a floor. But we were the happiest people in the world.
Together we lived in various cheap rooms, always for a short period of time, because tenants in Russia are very unprotected. From one of the apartments the Police kicked us out, after the landlord sold it to government without letting us know. Police gave us an evening to move out, into a cold winter with nowhere to go. I wasn’t scared, because I wasn’t alone and I even found it a bit romantic. But since then, I always feel nervous when someone is knocking at the door.
We lived together for six years and my ex always called me his “wife”, but never married me. His family didn’t want him to marry a person with vague background and no inheritance. Regardless, at some point we took a mortgage. I spent many months researching market and finding suitable and affordable place. I found our love nest near the park, so that when we came home, we walked among trees and a river - a rare pleasure to have in the big city.
I spent the next two years working on different jobs with weekends in hardware stores. On weekday evenings, I was submerged in reading about interior design and thinking about our bright new future.
When after 2 years everything was finished and I finally felt this place as my home he told me to move out. In few seconds I descended from “wife” to “ex-girlfriend”. “Our home” became “his home” and my new middle class life was crushed back to the homeless level. While I was choosing stuff for home and reading about Scandinavian design, he got another lover.
At this moment when my biggest fear was so intense, I decided to become a full time artist. It was also the time when my English improved in geometrical progression.
After my “divorce”, I moved to an apartment with an old landlady. I was living in a tiny place between the kitchen and living room - she loved TV and it was always on full volume and could be heard everywhere.
My room was sort of a storage space for stuff she didn’t use. A couch wasn’t able to lay out and I could sleep only with my "hands at the seams”, so I was laying in this stiff position between First Channel propaganda from the kitchen and soap operas from the living room. Most of the time I was crying.
Sometimes I would open Vkontakte, see my ex with his new girl and cry even more - I was completely broken emotionally, financially and physically. I was also afraid to leave my room or use the light, because my host was very sensitive to noises, smells and bills (despite the fact I was paying for them). I became a skinny mouse living in a cupboard.
My internet addiction went amok - it was the only thing I had energy for, and I decided to turn my addiction into language practice. I gave up Vkontakte and became active on Facebook and Instagram. I made few friends from CouchSurfing and language exchange websites, making a rule to read and write in English only.
I was writing about my life and art and the crazy idea to be a full time artist. I did it for the sake of learning English, but accidentally I made many friends. People started reposting me and one morning I woke up with 300 friend requests - soon I started to get 100 likes instead of my usual five. While Russian laughed, my new foreign friends started buying my works.
I wasn’t able to make new paintings in that apartment, but I was selling the old ones. After two months of depression and internet addiction, I sold enough works to rent a new room. I still live here, it’s been two years now. The room is cheap and broken, but I can paint here and for this I must thank all my art collectors.
At times I still have troubles with rent. Occasionally the fear of becoming homeless is driving me crazy and paralyses me for days, but I stay strong.
And if you’re not bored with this text and you don’t think being an artist is a silly idea, don’t forget to check out my works - they are still affordable.