Thanksgiving in Moscow by Kara M. Bollinger

December 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

redoctWe have an important meeting on Thanksgiving, though there is chocolate, the rectangular Red October chocolate with forest scenes on the wrapper. I indulge freely, because the meeting and because Thanksgiving. The strangest feeling is that no one I know in America is working.

We pass a window display with a taxidermied turkey and a cornucopia, and I’m completely confused and thankful for this.

That evening, I attend a potluck with American friends. I roast butternut squash in chunks because both my pan and oven are so small, mixing it with couscous, apples, and olive oil. There are no full turkeys in Russia, so we have chicken, and someone makes mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, among non-typical Thanksgiving sides. We feast

Everyone is here. We are young photographers, PhD students, Embassy workers. Some of us are musicians and writers for the Moscow Times. The flat is small and crowded, and our boots and coats cover the entryway floor. The wine is cheap and plentiful, enough that everyone has a personal bottle. I fancy myself Hemingway in Paris.

The Russians there celebrate their first Thanksgiving, and they dote over everything. They treat this night as Thanksgiving fact. The same way Russians observe me, a native, at McDonald’s.

With wine, the room warms, lights dim, the palm tree wallpaper less noticeable. Moscow and its expat circle embrace me. We talk about family and projects. We exchange business cards and phone numbers. My jokes play well. The most thankful Thanksgiving.

We guess which station the last metro leaves from, predicting when it arrives here, squeezing every last minute. It’s the closest I’ve come to missing it. When I step outside, even the cold isn’t enough to wake me to this fact. I make it, close my eyes, smiling, until home.

Kara M. Bollinger lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she teaches college writing and works on a nonfiction collection about a year spent living in Moscow, Russia. She’s published the chapbook “Attachment Theory,” as well as nonfiction and poetry in Midwestern Gothic and Sleet Magazine, among others.


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