My journey here began with an overnight train ride from Volgograd to Moscow. I quickly traversed the Metro system to the airport only to discover my flight had been delayed. Just when I thought of complaining I met some other foreigners who had been trying to leave Moscow for three days. My 11 hours in the airport became a lot easier with that perspective in mind. And although everything is way overpriced it’s like staying in a relatively safe, clean hotel without a shower or bed. Thanks to my gift of distraction and a thoughtful friend I somehow managed to stay awake to hear my boarding call at 3:30 am. I slept through most of the 8 hour and 40 minute flight.
I arrived a day before the New Year. Elena helped me register as a foreigner as required by Russian laws. After spending nearly a whole day jumping through some bureacratic hoops we prepared for the New Year’s night by taking a short nap and primping up.
For Russians the New Year is the ultimate holiday. It is their Christmas. Their Superbowl. Their Everything. They celebrate it like many Americans celebrate Christmas. They decorate a coniferous tree or ёлка (yolka), buy each other gifts and spend time with family or friends. Дёд Мороз (Dyod Moroz) is roughly the equivalent of Santa Claus.
In Vladivostok some celebrate New Year’s twice; once around midnight and again around 7 am when Moscow celebrates the New Year. I wish I knew this as I prepared to join my friend Elena and her friends celebrate. I would have brought a pillow.
The party started at 9pm and I am told everyone left by 8 am. By 6 am most were still there. Elena and I left “early” around 6am. By 5 am I stopped all efforts to be “part” of the party’s games and dancing and tried to feign my physical and social exhaustion by escaping into the blank pages of my notebook.
Elena’s friends rented a classroom that was once a cafe. I was most impressed by the disco light.At the party the techno music was paused only for occasional games and toasts. The most exciting moment of the night was when my friend Elena’s boyfriend proposed to her. I wish I could be here for her wedding but I am elated to share such a wonderful memory with her. It’s been fun helping her choose a wedding dress.