Hi, Friend. It’s just after 5am, and keep thinking about the first few lines of a poem I came across recently:
“It feels dumb to wash your face,
And dumb not to.”
My ill-advised session of doom scrolling reveals yet another atrocity matched by yet another sanction.
Russia strikes a hospital. McDonalds closes stores in Russia.
Russia bombs maternity ward. Instagram is shut down in Russia.
In my last phone call to grandma, she pleads to keep calling “while I still can”. Only a few weeks ago, it meant “while I am still alive”. Now it means “while there is still an opportunity to communicate with Russia”.
It’s been 19 days.
I decide not to wash my face. I cry on the couch.
I get two types of messages from my non-Russian speaking friends - both filled with tiptoeing concern:
The first → “I am thinking of you and your family.”
And the second → “How are you feeling… you know… about everything?”
I appreciate both messages immensely. It is easier to respond to the first one, because it’s not a question.
This letter is my limping attempt to answer the second one the best way I can.
I scroll up and add the subtitle to this email: “This is what it’s like to be Canadian-Russian right now”. I pause. I re-read the title. Am I Canadian-Russian? Or am I Russian-Canadian? Does it matter? I used to say Russian-Canadian. When did that change?
I delete the subtitle and limp along.
Imagine being raised by a father that you never got along with. You love him, but… you don’t exactly… like him. Never have. You do not have anything in common. In fact, you’ve always secretly wondered if you were actually adopted, and everyone just forgot to tell you. I mean… that would make so much more sense.
When you grow up, you move out. You are so much happier. You decide that you cannot possibly continue maintaining any sort of relationship with your father. Your values are just too different. You cut off contact. You hear about him once in a while through the family grapevine.
Then you get a phone call from your aunt. It’s about your father. He was driving while drunk, and hit a pedestrian. The person he hit died at the scene.
Russia feels like an estranged parent.
“How are you feeling… about all this?”
Angry. Very angry.
Sad. So sad.
Tired. Down to the bones exhausted.
Terrifyingly not surprised.
Clear in the knowledge that it’s possible to love and hate someone at the same time.
So, that’s how I am feeling… about… you know… everything.
What about you?
Where’s your head at these days? Where’s your heart at? Are you avoiding the news? [I get it.] Are you doomscrolling every morning? [I get it!]
This letter is just me… processing. Letting you in. Has it been helpful? Illuminating? Curious? Gut wrenching? All of the above? None of the things?