This is the view from my window in Moscow, painted by my grandfather, Alexander Nikolajev
The reason I feel, or felt initially, that moving was so dramatic – traumatic – is that I have done it before, under totally different circumstances. It was in the Soviet Union in 1981, when marrying a foreigner meant you were a traitor, and leaving your country meant most likely that you would never be able to return. The departure was definite. Books were considered state property, and I had to get permission from the National Library and pay export tax for every singe book I wanted to take with me. I gave away most of my books, selecting carefully the ones I valued highest. As to other possessions, I was going to the capitalist paradise where I would never lack anything. When Staffan came to visit me in
Of course, I have no idea today either what life has in store. But at least I know that I can come back as often as I wish, that my extended family can come and visit me, that I don’t have to show my wedding ring to the customs or make lists of all the books I am bringing.