I think it was payday, January 28th,at approximately 3am I purchased my flight to Moscow for April later that (this?) year. The idea popped into my head a few months before – I knew I wanted to go somewhere alone, where I didn’t know anyone. I needed to do some independent travelling again, but nothing too big. Somewhere that would be interesting and I could keep my mind busy. Somewhere I could explore and learn, rather than sit back and watch the world go by, alone with my often terrifying thoughts. I didn’t know what to expect, and wasn’t even particularly looking forward to it. I just knew it was something I had to do. If I get an idea in my head, and no other one pops up to replace it, it WILL happen. After two months of no travel (seriously) I went to Marrakech with Suzy, a big stepping stone after the events of the previous six months. But this time, using the words of Lickety Split as inspiration, I’m going alone.
So flights booked, I started the arduous process of obtaining a visa. I’d had some practice from work and knew what to expect.
Some questions pretty easy; ‘no, I had not been convicted on terrorist charges.’
Some took a while; ‘list every country you have visited in the last 10 years, with dates.’ Here I actually ran out of space so just made sure all the ones in my passport were covered.
Others, a little more confusing ‘have you ever had a Russian Visa?’ Yes, I thought. I went to Russia in 1989. But on looking at my old passports, and my parents old passports I could find no evidence that any of us had visited the USSR. ‘No, I have never had a Russian Visa.’
Being brutally honest, prior to this trip, I’ve not held the highest opinions of Russia. Born out of a mix of deep family prejudices (my mother and her family left Latvia as refugees in 1944), studying modern Russian history, and more recently studying the country in regards to Human Rights. But I know just because I think something DOES NOT mean I’m right. Here, I was ready, and wanted to be proved wrong.
Early wake up, en route to Moscow I felt pretty alone, confused (in the vein of ‘what the fuck am I doing?’) but okay; armed with Humpty & my Dr Seuss bible. Thankfully the easyjet flight was practically empty. They had only started the route a couple of weeks before I bought the flights.
Just about to land I looked at the window, and thought, (and wrote in my beautiful leather bound Arsenal journal) “so what the fuck is that? Is it sand? Is it snow? It’s 16*C. Maybe it takes a long time to melt here. Yes. it must be snow. Why would it be sand? Weird. Almost landing and my brain is like ????
But one step at a time. One activity at a time. I can do this on my own. I always have. The support is invaluable, but ultimately what I’ve done. The good AND the bad, is, and has always got to be, down to me.”