Published: May 10th 2006May 9th 2006
Again I woke up this morning feeling weak. It is as if I lose energy every night rather than get it back, even though my bed is becoming quite comfortable. My snooze alarm is now fifteen minutes rather than ten, and there are more of them. Before I did anything I tidied my room - threw away all the worksheets that I know I will never read again, sorted my books and made a 'miscellaneous' folder of presents and photos. Then I took my suitcase out of the cupboard. It's the sign - as it was in Yaroslavl - not that it's time to leave, but that I'm ready to leave.
With all that done I joined Kaisa, Liisa and Johani at the obelisk at the beginning of ulitsa Sovetskaya. Unfortunately finding them was so hard that I only bumped into them at the very end. Thousands of people were on the streets to celebrate Victory Day and Tver was as busy as I've ever seen it. On the road next to the theatre a race was about to start, and hundreds of young people were doing their last warm-ups in their gym kit with numbers attached to the front
of their shirts. The whole town had a festival feel to it; loudspeakers gave it a merry 'village fete' atmosphere, the brass bands and war veterans in their uniforms, peaked caps and badges made it feel rather more Soviet and sombre.
The temperature has dropped to less than 10 degrees, and there was some rain this morning that made the university courtyard smell of wet tarmac in spring. Natasha sent some of us an sms in the afternoon with our instructions for the evening. "Be by the church on Tverskoi Prospekt at 6 - it's the 9th of May, we have to meet!". When we did she brought a friend of hers from Petersburg, Anya, and we walked around town for a while before finding a café. We crossed the bridge to the other half of town, where I have only been three times in three months, and walked along the river. We saw Lyudmila Giorgevna in the distance and myself and Kaisa were brave enough to go to her and congratulate her on the holiday. She was standing on the bank with her daughter and grand-daughter - three generations with the same face shape and fair hair, as if they were parts of the same matryoshka doll. We chatted easily for ten minutes; if she wasn't still my teacher I would have gone to the supermarket to buy some wine and four glasses for us.
No-one knew whether there would be fireworks over the river at 11 or not. It turned out that the weather was too grey, and I went home at 8 anyway. Liisa was feeling low, so to take her mind off it we stepped on to the first trolleybus that came past Kafe London and got off at the end of the line, wherever it would take us. The plan backfired as we were dropped off at the most miserable town, where there was just rows and rows of ugly ten-storey grey concrete flats, one gambling kiosk and a small supermarket that sold unwrapped fish from a basket. I still don't understand how so many million Russian people can each live so unattractively, so invisibly. It must be lonely. But it makes me understand better how they only see their own way through life, and no-one else's.
Coffee and chocolate helped her mood, and maybe mine too, when we got back to my kitchen at midnight.