Yet I instinctively balk when someone asks me where I am from....I find the question repugnant. I become defensive...
they must be questioning if I belong.. identifying me as a stranger amidst their kind.
Ostracizing me for the faint accent they hear...How dare they! haha
Of course, I am sure that is a gross over-reaction. I do not look American. I do not talk or dress like the girls that surround me. I am undeniably, clearly... Russian. But I loathe that "Russian" has become synonymous with fur, and glitter, and garish opulence. With loud voices and rude behavior. With too much make-up and flashy...everything. Worldwide we are represented by the few who are able to travel and flaunt their wealth dripping in distaste and bad manners...which, unfortunately, is not who we are as a people. We do not live on vodka and potatoes. We do not throw tantrums like petulant children or become a spectacle of poor taste. We love culture and value intelligence...but we are often not seen amidst the Euro trash that has infected every country on the planet under the guise of the "Russian invasion."
ugh. KILL ME NOW.
At my core I am so deeply PROUD of my blood. My blood, that spawned a great Imperial power. My blood that birthed great poets and composers.
My Russia is hard to describe. But when I close my eyes and think of my home...this is what I see...
These are my people...
Sometimes I long for my childhood...for the amazing food that quenches the soul. For the music that makes me feel like I belong. For the beauty that can only be found in my continent. (Yes, continent. Twelve time zones people. Not filled with bears walking the streets or permanently covered in snow)... The stereotypes that fill pop culture are partly our fault...we do nothing to dispel them and choose to ignore rather than to correct. As if talking about the truth will somehow betray our secrets.
I guard my heritage, I do not talk about my past...nor do I flaunt it like some other cultures, only to alienate those around me because they are less "ethnic." Tres gauche mon ami.
I carry it with me...I love the Russian tid bits that sprinkle randomly into my life. I never pass up a chance to speak with those who understand me. I SAVOR the jokes and, embarrassingly, the epic curse words. I am proud that Russians are known for their strength and their beauty.
Unfortunately I do not have Russian friends. I do not surround myself with Russian music or literature on a daily basis...but when I happen to hear a song from days long gone I miss my home. My heart aches for the country that no longer knows me...the country that I will never live in. I miss the humid summer nights scented by field flowers, the crisp dark snow-covered nights, the antique perfume permeating the halls of the St Petersburg subway...the comradery of a Russian gathering where laughter and wine are never-ending and every person treats you like family.
My blood cannot be denied..My offspring will know our past - they will represent the land I love to my core, with dignity and a superiority created by good breeding and a noble past. They will never be "nouveau." They will quietly build our legacy and will never be a caricature of those that came before them. And perhaps, one day, "Russian" won't mean "spy," or "drunkard," or "mafia"...it will mean "interesting," "intelligent," or "exotic" again.
I know, I will return...if not permanently, at least enough to feel at home again. To feel like I belong to something much greater...a collective "Borg" that thinks and feels as one.
Suffers as one.
Loves as one.
Survives and prospers together...as one.