It has been twelve years since I first set foot on your Belarusian soil and you stole my heart. That trip was one not to be forgotten. It was my first time out of the USA and even my first time on an airplane. There are so many memories still. We ate strange foods like cow tongue, pig’s ear, borscht and weird dairy drinks. We walked more than my American legs had ever walked in a 10 day period. I made friends that I keep in touch with to this day. My good friend Jeff took a punch for me when I was grabbed from behind by a drunk, vodka smelling, non English speaking man. I found it was not unusual to have several friends all named Tanya. I saw God in a whole new light. And I met my husband.
I visited four more times as a single, college student. One of those being the summer of 2004, in which my love for your only deepened by the longer stay. My parents and friends thought this longer trip would hold enough culture shock to clip my little wings as my mom would say, but this Robin, was meant to fly and I have over and over. That summer I lived with a family – now my family. I learned so much and experienced so many things.
A few years followed and I tried to forget you when the possibility of living on your streets came and passed. But here I am ten years later and I still love you. You have changed a bit, but so have I. You are not perfect by any means, but I don’t care. No city is. I’ve been here a month now. That’s enough time for some ups and downs. Those just seem to make it all the more real. To deepen the knowledge. All your foreignness and yet so familiar.
Though I always have been a country girl, you were the first city I loved. I love your parks and festivals, with their monuments and memorials that speak of the lives and ages lived in your borders.
I love the immense green space and wooded paths along the Svisloch River.
I love the mix of architecture. From the industrial soviet style buildings, to the onion domes of the churches, to the quaint and colorful village houses.
I love your forests.
I love your sounds and have even grown to love the smells.
But most of all I love your people.
They are the ones I truly will not forget and what make you what you are. I wish I could picture them all.
If you want to see more of Minsk and Belarus, this video is good.