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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Farewell, My Russia, But Not Forever

All good things must come to an end, and this column is no exception. After four years of weekly outpourings of rage and elation, I am now writing my last installment.


It has been quite a run. Through this little space, just under 600 words, I have made and lost friends, embarrassed half my acquaintances, been instrumental in at least one divorce and gotten a few embassies mad at me.


For good or bad, many of you have responded to this column, and I would like to thank you all. Special regards to those who inundated me with dishwashing liquid when I wailed about running out, to those who wrote in with advice on my messy love life, and, most particularly, to all who expressed sympathy when I lost my dog, Sasha.


I am even grateful to the why-don't-you-just-go-home-if-you-hate-it-so-much crowd, although I think they missed the point.


One Western businessman, professing himself tired of my whining, offered to give me a one-way ticket home, something I may take him up on in the not-too-distant future.


I have tried to amuse, I have probably irritated, but most of all, I hope that I have been able to impart just a bit of my decade's worth of experience in Russia.


For anyone in doubt, I truly love this complex, beautiful and tragic country. That does not keep me from being, in turn, angry, frustrated, exhausted and just plain grumpy, as the ideal of Russia I have loved for decades gets tarnished in the admittedly rough and tumble day-to-day world.


I remember way back in 1986, when I was a newcomer, high on the thrill of being in Moscow. I rushed from theater openings to parties to meetings with Russian friends, fueled by the sheer excitement of hearing what is, to me, the most wonderful language on earth. I can still see the sour looks of the old-timers as I enthused about the beauty, the drama, the mystery of Russia.


Deep down, I still feel that way, although 10 years of drama and mystery have left me too enervated to show it. But as soon as I am gone I know I will begin to pine.


Yes, I am leaving Russia. Soon I will be moving to a northern European country with clean air, clean water and incredible natural beauty all around. I am full of happy anticipation, especially since the package includes a very significant other.


But when I tell my Russian friends about my plans they shrug and say "skuchno." Boring.


Boring. As if battling through the metro every day, dodging rats in the courtyard and fighting a mind-numbing bureaucracy at every turn didn't get a bit repetitive after a while. I bristle at the assessment, although I secretly suspect that they are right.


My landlady, when I told her I was leaving, shook her head and sighed. Upon hearing that there was a man involved, though, she sat back, looked at me appraisingly, and said, "You might as well do it. It's probably your last chance."


So off I go, to recover and rest, and, like every other journalist with a snootful of Russia, try to write a book.


But I leave on a promise or a warning, depending on your own opinion of my writing:


I'll be back.