Dec 10, 2010
The Time traveler
I think the feeling of longing for home is universal, even if they make a new home elsewhere. But no matter how much time you spend in a few city or a country, I think a part of you always reaches out to the place you knew as home before. I see that in myself, my family, and many other immigrants.
That is why I find the internet utterly fascinating, because now I can just Google my town that I grew up with. Before that I would have no way of knowing what's going on there, or hope to ever find people from my childhood ever again. Now, I have most of my classmates on FaceBook (or the Russian version of it, I should say). I can Google my town and read the latest news, or see what new building they built. And that is the part that I am not entirely comfortable with. You see, back in the day, my town still had whole neighborhoods of wooden huts with no central water, heating, or even sewer. My own house was a wooden structure, built on the wooden supports. We did have plumbing though (gotta love plumbing!). When I look at the pictures of Mirny (the Diamond capital of Siberia), I feel like I stepped through a time portal. In my mind, as well as my heart - it is still that town from long ago. A town without a gigantic beautiful Christian temple (not unhappy about that, of course). A town without a fancy sports center and rebuilt schools.
It's not easy, but sometimes I find the pictures from the "old times", in black and white and all grainy. Because for some reason almost every picture made in the 80s, especially in my household, looks like it was taken in the 40s. Anyway, when I find those pictures and look at them I feel dizzy. As if I am staring into a void. That time had passed, that world, that country, that city essentially does not exist anymore. But for me, finding those pictures - an affirmation that I came from a real place, that it existed, that people I knew have lived there (and probably still do).
Change is hard, we know that, but for me it's even harder when it happens without me.The school that I went to - an olf, two story, wooden, falling apart building where I learned English language is now the pride of the city. It was built anew - an architectural marvel with a luxurious gym, auditorium and even a dance club. I still remember cramming into a 10'x10' dressing room to change for the gym class - about a dozen girls in a tiny, poorly lit room. One year we had to miss almost a month of school because the pipes under the cafeteria broke in the winter and the floor cave in. One winter, the heat would not work for the longest time, and we had to wear our winter coast int he classrooms. The ink in the pens was frozen solid. Fun times.
There was a group of missionaries that came to visit us in the late 80s. Honestly, I am guessing that they were missionaries, but back then they were just a bunch of Americans that came to visit. But they did not seem to have any purpose and it was strange to us. But I don't think they were allowed to preach the Gospel, for even though the Iron Curtain was falling, for the most part, religion was still pretty much an unacceptable thing to be occupying yourself with. You might as well be proclaiming riding the unicorns and talking with the elf people. I recall this one time, walking with these two Americans (I think they were in their ate teens or 20s). And it was freezing cold, and we walked them from our school to their hotel or the apartments where they were staying. And we were talking, trying our best to keep the conversations - between their broken Russian and our broken English. Now I am realizing that I was probably walking with missionaries, telling them about mosquitoes. And I was the person they were trying to mission to.
Life's funny that way.
But back to the school.I guess I was lucky that my school at the time had the dressing rooms or a cafeteria (even if the floor cave in, releasing a whole bunch of toxic gas). The very 1st even school in Mirny was opened in 1958. It was located in a tent, and it had a wooden barrel with a cut opening in it - to throw the coals in to burn for warmth. They had 5 students. :)
But this is what my school looks like now.Beautiful, isn't it? I found some pictures inside the school, and they were breathtaking - granite or marble floors, hallways, stairwells. Definitely not what I remember. and I'm really happy that my old hometown has been built up and expanded. Yet, I think I will always have this ache in my heart - just an ache that everyone gets when they think of their childhood and the world they knew becoming "history".
This is the Triniry church in my town. That is perhaps the most amazing thing - this beautiful temple to God in a town where the missionaries once were not allowed to evangelize.