An Immigrant Story

1999, 2020

9 min read by Dmitri.
Published on . Updated on .
Having landed back in Vancouver, I ride the train home in a stupor. As if I woke up from a lucid dream, not quite able to separate the reality from the mind’s fabrications.

After moving to Canada in 1999, I never revisited my homeland until 2020.

I remember making bad drawings of this view at school.

In Moscow, I lived with my grandma and grandpa while attending grade school.

That birch tree pot still smells like the honey that filled it thirty years ago.

Returning twenty years late, I was reminded of what I lost. I never got to see my favourite grandpa whom I spent my carefree mornings with. My last phone call with grandma was brief.

I took a fourteen-hour flight to give mom a hand at an empty flat.

Rain in Amsterdam.
Moscow appeared like Mordor from under the heavy cloud cover.

The city felt foreign and familiar.

I expected Moscow to be a place of comfort, inline with my memories.

Instead, it turned out to be a travel destination, permeated with deja-vu’s.

“Red Caviar” by “Fish processing facility №Г2.”

I recalled my trips to China and Hong Kong as I browsed the local brutalist architectural forest, built in the ‘80s.

Metro. I was looking forward to riding it. Having maintained a connection to an object often favourably mentioned in the West when Russia is the topic, it’s been on my mind since I bought the flight tickets.

A tremendous investment by the state into public mobility. A statement.

As I roamed the underground, I felt the onslaught of emotions. Identity crisis, an immigrant’s cliché. Quite disturbing, actually.

Outside, I tried to learn Moscow, scanning for swatches of a past-self.

Some of the decaying memories unearthed, photographed, and spelled out.

Helpful but not settling.

These photos and the stories are now part of the book called Moscow Dayze. It may be found at the Analog.Cafe shop.