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12/11/2012

Our Kiev/Moscow Tour Through the Eyes of Our ESSAY Contest Participants - Bailey Kennedy

This is the essay of the winner of the contest - Mary Bailey Kennedy, Macalester College

A Million Little Mirrors

    When I remember Moscow, I will remember it through rain.  It was gloomy and overcast the first time I set foot on red square. Mist drifted almost accidentally from the sky, like clouds slipping down to blanket the earth. Each droplet that landed on my glasses and eyelashes became a prism,
bending and multiplying the beauty around me. Each raindrop held Saint Basil’s in miniature, wet and soft. The cobblestones on the square were covered with puddles, each holding a slightly different, distorted view of the city. It was as if the city itself was crowding in to get my attention, reminding me of the thousand names it wore.

       It continued to rain on and off over the next few days, as I set out on my own and with friends to discover the city. When I arrive in a new place, my instinct is always to compare it to cities I know; to make it familiar. With Moscow, I found this impossible. The rain made me feel as if I were in a fairytale; the city itself seemed to want to convince me I was in a time machine. The first
time I wandered away from the Kremlin, I found myself surrounded by unbelievably luxury. All at once, I was surrounded by women in fur and high heels, shopping at stores with brands fit for royalty. When I wandered onto the Novyi Arbat, I was overwhelmed; I felt as if all the gold of Russia had concentrated itself in one place. This was impressive enough. Every once in a while, though, I would look up and see a golden dome peeking out from between skyscrapers, and remember that Russia has not always been this way; that Moscow is the ancient heart of an empire, and that no matter how I examine the city, there will always be something that I cannot quite reach. Every street I stepped onto on Moscow seemed to contradict the one that came before it, and dare me to ask why.

    The three days in Moscow were filled with a million experiences I will never forget: stepping behind the walls of the Kremlin, learning about the crown jewels of the Romanov family, eating Russian food in a glittering restaurant high above the city. But the memory that will remain with me the longest is from my final night in the city. After spending the day in the Air and Space museum, a friend and I decided to ride a Ferris wheel. We didn’t make it as high as the cosmonauts, but perched high above the city, I could see Moscow stretching out in all directions, gray and glittering. Cathedrals mingled with skyscrapers, parks glistened green around us—and even from a hundred feet above the ground, I could feel the energy of the city pulsing in the air. Moscow was alive. And though I may never be able to truly understand the city, I am glad to have seen it, if only for a few days. Bailey

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I love you. I love this. Thank you for sharing these cities with me (and so much more).

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