A city to come home to

St. Petersburg, Petrograd, Leningrad, St. Petersburg, Peter. In my mind, the present iteration for the city of my birth is “Absent European.” The city, built on the backs and bones of thirty thousand men, brought Russia into the age of modernity, but it is absent. It is absent from my memory, absent from my grasp, and there is an absence of hope of return to the city of my life.
The duty of every Russian writer must be to write about St. Petersburg, for the greatest have done so: Gogol, Bely, Brodsky, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Nabokov. I follow in the footsteps of giants, traversing Nevsky Prospect, laboring over these rectilinear streets, these canals that contain the bones of thousands.
As a child, I chose a school in the center of the city over the one I could see out my bedroom window. Each morning, one of my parents took my sister and me on the hour long commute to the city center by subway and tram; crushed between absent-minded men and women heading to work, we emerged from the metro station on Nevsky to the voices of street peddlers.