Some of you may know that I am originally from St-Petersburg in Russia and moved to live in the Netherlands some time ago. In 2017 on my last day in Russia, I wrote a post about the motherland. One of the points there was that the concept of home keeps changing throughout our lives, while the motherland remains constant. I still believe that this is the case, but I felt what I had never felt before the last time I was visiting St-Petersburg.
For the last 4 years, when I arrived in St-Petersburg, my parents were there waiting for me, all my friends were ready to spend as much time with me as they could, and everything else was planned out. However, this time, I am alone. My parents are out of town, my friends are busy, and overall I ended up spending a lot of time by myself. I still enjoy the city and simply being here, but this time around, I realized that this might not be my home anymore. It remained home until this moment although I was living in another country for 4 years already.
As I had a lot of time by myself, it got me thinking. I always knew that St-Petersburg is not going to remain my home forever. However, what was the reasoning for the feeling to change now? Was it the absence of friends and family? Or the lack of planned activities? Or was it simply something that changed in me that I only realized when I arrived in St-Petersburg?
So I started thinking point by point, trying to understand what caused the switch in my attitude towards St-Petersburg. I started with defining to myself what the home means to me and why specifically St-Petersburg remained home for so long. For me, home is the place where I’m welcomed, where I feel needed, where I’m loved. Moreover, I know it well. Every corner, street, and café feels so familiar and known. You enjoy doing nothing the same way you enjoy the silence with the closest people. You always know where to go to entertain yourself.
However, I was missing more than one of those conditions of “home” on this arrival. My loved ones were not there to welcome me. With the new constructions and opening of new cafes and restaurants around the city, I did not feel like I knew the city as well anymore. I did not know where I could entertain myself, as so many places around the city have changed. So, what was I left with? Just the cities atmosphere that was still with me on the same wavelength. Nevertheless, many conditions that were so strongly associated with the home were missing.
According to this, the reason why I felt that St-Petersburg is no longer my home, but just the motherland is the lack of some conditions. Therefore, it is changeable. Or is it? Besides the lack of so-called conditions, I realized that one of the main changes is that I finally found another home. And it was not in Russia. For the first time in 4 years, I’ve stopped moving from place to place every half a year. I found new friends, new colleagues, the work that I love, and I am following the study that I enjoy. Then it means that what actually affected how I feel is not the place or the conditions, but the simple fact of me finding a new home that indeed fits all those conditions that I defined for myself before.
Even though I didn’t particularly like how I felt on my last arrival to St-Petersburg, I am happy that I have a place to call home. I will repeat the young Polina from 2017: