leaving ulgii

i write this at last back in my studio in UB, returning to the sharp beginning of winter in a city that feels more chaotic than i had remembered.

I have to admit, it had been hard to be truly ‘present’ at the end of my time in ulgii.. attempting to turn off the brain chatter that had kept me awake and rabidly tying up loose ends (both in the studio and with my friends there) these past few days proved near impossible. but i left the Altai to a flawless blue sky on a crisp autumnal day knowing that i will probably be back here sooner than i think.

i will miss this place. there are some things that lack, of course (hot running water, non-root vegetables, and electrical sockets that don’t flicker and fry your electronics), but there are some things that are infinitely better. fresh homemade bread for example. and having extended family around all the time. never having to call before visiting a friend or worry that you’re overstaying your welcome. Offering someone food and them always accepting. calling good friends mother, brother, sister, father because there is no other way to describe how intimate your relationship is otherwise. fresh horse meat in… anything. the physicality of people’s affection- so very un-western and effusive and fantastic. and of course the endless suu te tsai and tea biscuits and bowls of chocolates wrapped in brightly colored metallic paper.

oh ulgii, you have been good to me.

i must also extend an enormous thanks to my beloved peace corps friend Caitlin for so graciously allowing me to invade her life (and her space) for the past 2 months. she is one of the most generous people i have ever met and i am eternally in her debt.

(even if she is a horribly tone-deaf singer):

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