7th of February 1994, Moscow, Russia

It’s early morning and it’s grey, the kind of grey that only these neglected post-communist high rises that surround me can portray, the kind of grey that seeps into your soul, even an 11 yr old Russian soul which has been bred to resist those kinds of feelings, or any feelings for that matter.
Four months of this grey winter, with no end in sight is slowly wearing down even the hardiest locals.
The constant and monotonous background hum of the city is interrupted only by the harsh caw of the resident crows, which makes this an unusually quiet morning for such a large city, almost always filled with a symphony of car alarms, sirens, people and barking.
Fresh snow, which could sometimes break the melancholy hasn’t fallen for days, making the streets a brown slushy of last week’s snow and a mix of salt and sand.

Those incessant crows! Assaulting my otherwise numb senses, pulling me away from my thoughts and into the harsh reality of the daily trudge to school.

I get off the filthy sidewalk, cross the road and cut across a small park, somehow, there are still white pockets of untouched snow, albeit sprinkled with dog shit; I decide to walk through the snow, hoping in vain that it will lift my mood, but instead making my progress more difficult and existence for those that follow even more dreary. Walking past the rubbish tip, I look up at the giant graffiti of a swear word, I feel shame every time I walk past, but it’s there to stay, whatever tar I found in the tip to draw this with, wasn’t coming off. I realise that due to the cold, the tip is not as fragrant as it usually is, not that the smell bothered me much anyway, having spent many a summer day rummaging through half rotten vegetables, looking for treasures.

Opposite the tip, a playground looks like it has been hit by a bomb, yet another act I’m not proud of, though this time it was a combined effort of roughly 20 neighbourhood kids; a need for destruction, an expression of anger, the rage of the city -channelled through its smallest residents. I was expecting it to be fixed, not realising that at the time, that the new government was too busy dividing previously public assets between themselves to worry about the people.
To my right, the remnants of snow pile, the snow pile I burrowed into not so long ago, after hearing that freezing to death wasn’t a bad way to go. To my left is where my friend got his younger sister to stand against the wall while we launched snowballs at her face until she cried, it is also where I caught a bottle thrown from the 5th floor with the back of my head.

These few blocks are my world, this my city.

I now find myself at the highway, eight lanes of chaos, the horns and sirens rip my thoughts from the past, and as I join the river of grey, I am no longer my regrets, no longer an individual, I am part of this crumbling city once again.

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