When asked what I write about on my blog, I always respond with a tentative “lifestyle things?” although I don’t really know what that means. I started writing here 8 years ago and since I’m free from all pressures of monetizing the site, I’ve never defined my genre. Content marketing has a powerful gravitational pull and I’d like to keep this corner of the Internet free of all gimmicks, content gating, and gotchas.
What I do know is that this is not a travel blog. My husband and I currently call Saint Petersburg home and we hope to travel more than we normally would over the next few years, but this will still be my place to share my musings on the world around me, which just happens to be in Russia right now.
Moving to Saint Petersburg has felt like becoming a child again. I’m slowly sounding out words on buildings as we walk by them, am fascinated by the bright colors of the buildings and parks, and it takes so much longer to do simple tasks than it feels like it ought to. Just charging my phone is a 3 apparatus ordeal. And there is the child-like wonder to it as well. New sights and sounds amaze me and each day is a new adventure as we explore the town, transportation system, and shops.
Daily life here so far is very similar to life in the States on a large scale, and very different in many minuscule ways throughout the day. The downsized toilet paper and circle electrical plugs, for example. Differences that are neither bad nor good, just different. These small changes were threatening to throw me off-kilter (is this what they call culture shock?) until I read this passage from C.S. Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet:
It was only days later that Ransom discovered how to deal with these sudden losses of confidence. They arose when the rationality of the hross [a being from a different planet] tempted you to think of it as a man. Then it became abominable–a man seven feet high, with a snaky body, covered, face and all, with thick black animal hair, and whiskered like a cat. But starting from the other end you had an animal with everything an animal ought to have–glossy coat, liquid eye, sweet breath and whitest teeth–and added to all these, as though Paradise had never been lost and earliest dreams were true, the charm of speech and reason. Nothing could be more disgusting than the one impression; nothing more delightful than the other. It all depended on the point of view.
By no means am I suggesting that Russians are extraterrestrials, rather, I’m realizing more and more how similar we all are. But moving to a foreign country can feel like an other-worldy experience and I’ll drive myself crazy if I’m finding the small differences “disgusting” instead of appreciating things for how they actually are and finding the similarities delightful. As Lewis put it best: It all depends on the point of view.
I’m a big believer in dreaming and doing but reality is a strong force to be reckoned with. Our expectations about what reality should look like often cause us to be disappointed when life doesn’t deliver. I’d rather rejoice in the ways it gives me joy instead of constantly comparing reality to what I think it ought to look like and ending up feeling like everything is just a little bit (or a lot a bit) off.