Six Minutes of Sunlight

An extremely long summer spilt over into a surprisingly mild fall, and I’ll admit I almost forgot how cold Moscow can be. As I write this it’s still 18˚C out and sunny, so it’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that my weather app is showing snow for next week. Next. Week. I’ve been here for two winters; this is to be my third, if we actually stay in Moscow till 2019, and I’m dreading it as one does a tooth extraction, or an open-heart surgery, or a confrontation with a rabid dog.

Because being an Asian — a sun-worshipping, beach-going Asian — living in a country with one of the coldest winters in the world? There’s nothing normal about it. Moscow winters pierce your bones and settle in you like a ghost you can’t shake off; it stays for almost six months, it offers you six minutes of sunlight. The government controls the radiators, meaning the homes are so warm in wintertime that you actually have to open your windows while it’s -20˚C out, so everything feels weird and upside-down. The constant layering, hour after hour of dimness… it all gets into your head after the novelty of the first snow wears off, and all you’re left with are six more months of slush you have to trudge through to get from one place to the next.

Next week, next week. 

If you have to twist my arm, though, there is one redeeming quality about winter in this city: the lights. You can’t walk a few meters without being greeted by strings of fairy lights on storefronts or restaurant windows. They’re lit as soon as the sun sets (if you count dark ominous gray fading into black as a sunset), and they reflect on the salt thrown on the snow so it looks and feels like you’re walking on glitter.

Currently listening to:
The Aggrovators
Rocksteady Reverie

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