• Marina

Saint Petersburg

There is a strange smell in the Russian Museum in Petersburg. It reminds me of library and something Soviet, very nostalgic and familiar. I can’t say I like this smell or even this museum, but it touches me deeply.

The first time I entered this place when I was 15, it was my first hitchhike trip across Russia. I remember how amazed I was standing at the entrance of the main building - the Mikhailovsky Palace, looking at the splendid neoclassical colonnades. It was such a contrast - the ex-residence of Grand Duke Michael Pavlovich filled with the smell of Soviet times.

After hours of contemplating art, I went to Mikhailovsky garden tired and hungry. I’ve seen a stand with sweet almonds. I don’t know why, but I paid my last dollar for this tiny package. I could have bought something cheaper and more filling, but I bought this sweet almond and slept on a bench that night, still feeling hungry.

What was in my head back then? How did I travel so far with no money? I only remember that I wanted to see museums and palaces. My mother said that when I grow up, finish school, get married and then I will travel somewhere. But I didn’t want to wait. I wanted it NOW.

Now I’m here again, I’m 29 and I came to Petersburg on a night train from Moscow, mainly to have cheaper dentist help. The sweet almond stand is still there and I even have one dollar, but I have no teeth to chew. The unpleasant taste of the antiseptic is spreading out of bloodstained wounds in my mouth. My tongue feels the four molar teeth missing. Such a pain.

“At least you had teeth, you’re little bum!” - I said to the imaginary ghost of the 15 year old self. I stand here in the same kind of plaid shirt and old jeans - some things never change, I was always very poor and unstylish.

It’s been almost 15 years since I first came here - an even circle through time. I’m reaching the deadline of thirty, age when you suppose to achieve something. Many things happened during those years, but my life is as unsafe and unstable as back then. One day I will become either an inspiration or a warning for people. But right now my social media is a reality show called “If Marina will survive”. Thanks for watching!

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