humansofny humansofny

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Humans of New York  Currently sharing stories from Russia.

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“I met him six months ago at work. I’m the manager of a store. He was a delivery man. He was playful and fun. He’d bring me coffee and buns in the morning. He started driving me home at night. We began dating and recently moved in together. But a few weeks ago I called his cell phone and a woman picked up. She started asking who I was, and said she wanted to know why I was calling ‘her man.’ Afterwards he told me it was a big misunderstanding. He said it was his ex-girlfriend, and he’d been with her for nine years, so he still feels a responsibility to provide for her. He swears it’s just a material relationship. But she calls him all the time now. He’s not my property, and I don’t want to lose him, but I just want him to make her go away. But he acts like it’s my problem. When I tell him it bothers me, he just says: ‘I’ll ask her not to call at night.’” (St. Petersburg, Russia)

“She needed people around us and I didn’t understand that. I was locked on the two of us. There was a Russian writer who wrote: ‘I hated the world so that I could love you more.’ And that was me. I stopped talking to my old friends. I stopped spending time with people from work. And I wanted her to do the same. I was jealous, maybe. She was much younger than me so that made me feel insecure. I don’t think I wasn’t being mean. I was just asking her not to go to work parties. She left me 258 days ago. We’d just come back from a holiday by the sea, and everything seemed fine. It was just like always. We were swimming, drinking wine, going to cafes. I had no idea it was coming. One morning we were having coffee in the kitchen, and she said: ‘I don’t love you anymore.’ It was two months straight of drinking vodka after that. I lost thirty pounds. Only now is the wound starting to heal. I’m getting used to being lonely.” (Moscow, Russia)

“I don’t get to live the life of a seventeen year old. My mom is always working and I have a six-year-old brother. So I have to do everything that a mother would do. I take him to kindergarten, pick him up, feed him, clean up after him. I don’t get to take breaks. I can’t play sports after school. I can’t get extra tutoring. But it’s not my mom’s fault. She’s trying to save money for me to go to college. And she tells me every day that I’m a wonderful daughter. But it’s been very difficult for me. The only good thing is that I can understand adult problems already. I don’t take anything for granted and I know that life is not easy. It seems like my friends aren’t even studying to get knowledge. They’re studying to get an allowance. So I think I’m more mature than most seventeen year olds. But at some point I would like some time to take care of myself. Or maybe even have someone take care of me for a change.” (Moscow, Russia)

“I’m trying to undo old patterns. If she does something that was prohibited in my own childhood, I automatically react. It comes from inside of me. So if we need to go somewhere, and she’s resisting, and I feel like yelling, I’ll turn it into a game. I’ll be the mother cat, and she’ll be the kitten. Or we’ll both be princesses going on an adventure. Honestly, I think the pretending helps me more than it helps her. It’s what forces me out of those patterns.” (Moscow, Russia)

“I graduated more than one thousand kids from elementary school. I'd still be teaching but my eyes went bad. It’s such an important time in a child’s life. It’s when they learn speech, grammar, and how to pay attention. It’s when the tree gets its roots. If you’re taught wrong in elementary school, you’ll be trying to catch that train for the rest of your life.” (St. Petersburg, Russia)

“My daughter was injured during birth. Her back was broken during labor. She’s in her thirties now but she still has a lot of problems, especially in her mind. She can’t be left alone. Sometimes she doesn’t even know where she is. It’s like she’s living in a ghost world. It’s been very difficult for us. My wife had to stop working and became severely depressed. We can’t travel. We can’t be active. I try not to resent my daughter but it can be hard. Sometimes she gets very aggressive. When she was younger, she threw all of our possessions out the window. I don’t think many people could have handled it. They’d have taken her to an institution by now. But I can’t do it. Those places are very scary. But my wife and I are getting old. We have no other relatives. So that’s where she’ll end up one day. I try not to imagine it. But it’s inevitable.” (St. Petersburg, Russia)

“I’m fourteen and all my friends are crazy about being grown ups right now. They’re drinking alcohol. They’re smoking cigarettes. They’re trying to act vulgar. They’ll do anything to separate from their parents and prove that they’re independent. Personally, I’d like to be a child just a little bit longer. I love spending time with my parents. I’m not in a rush to get away. I’d like these times to last as long as possible.” (St. Petersburg, Russia)

“We met six months ago at a dance night. His wife passed away three years ago. I’d been married for thirty years and gotten divorced. It was just nice to have someone to talk to. We have so much in common. My ex-husband only wanted to stay home and watch TV. But we do all sorts of things together: walk around the city, go to museums, travel.” “Have sex.”
“Hush.”
“What? We’re still young.” (St. Petersburg, Russia)

“It wasn’t an official marriage. We didn’t register. But we had a plan. I was earning good money even though I was young. I was already a specialist at the age of nineteen. She was very beautiful. We’d been together for four years. She was a good person and very easy to talk to. She’d met my family and everyone loved her. At the time I was helping to construct a new subway line in Moscow. I came home from work one day and she was gone. There were no cell phones back then. Nobody knew where she was. She’d last been seen getting into a private taxi with her friend Natalya. A lot of people were disappearing during that time. The police stopped searching after a few months. She wasn't seen again. There’s a line from a Russian poem. It says: ‘We love just once in a lifetime. And spend the rest of our lives looking for something similar.’ I’ve had other girlfriends after Oksana. But I don’t remember their birthday. Oksana’s birthday was July 9th. She was a Leo.” (St. Petersburg, Russia)

“I quit my job earlier this year. I’m taking a little time to focus on myself. I worked from nine to six everyday. I often brought my work home with me. I was getting sick, and anxious, and I wasn’t sleeping well. But I could never accept my weaknesses. I’d see other people working harder than me, and I’d think: ‘If they can do it, why should I feel tired?’ Eventually I pushed myself so hard that I became depressed. One reason I couldn’t slow down is because my entire family is hard working. Both my parents are architects. My grandfather is an engineer. The importance of hard work has been passed down through the generations. I think the entire country is afraid to stop working. There have been so many hard times. There’s been so much hunger. For so long we had to work all the time just to survive. Even though things are better now, that’s a difficult to psychology to escape. I’m starting to interview for new jobs. But I’m asking different questions. Money is the last thing I worry about. I’m much more interested in the schedule.” (St. Petersburg, Russia)

“I came here to meet a girl that I know from the Internet. She's coming all the way from Belarus. It's nothing sexual. Just a friendship. Her name is Olga. We’ve known each other for seven years but this is the first time we’re meeting in person. She’s supported me through a lot of hard times. I get bullied a lot. People at my school often call me names and try to start fights with me. They send love letters to other guys in my name. Olga has comforted me a lot. She checks in with me throughout the day. She says things like: ‘You don’t deserve it.’ And ‘Don’t pay attention to them.’ Her messages have really helped me get through the last few years-- even if they were just words on the Internet.” (St. Petersburg, Russia)

“We were together for nine years. I was completely dependent on him. He was a strong and powerful man and he expected obedience. If he called me at 4 AM, and told me to meet him in Moscow, I was expected to go to the train station. He had a very strong energy. It was hard to argue with him. In the beginning of the relationship, I obeyed because of the pressure. But then the pressure just became a habit. It got worse as time went on. Eventually he stopped listening to me completely. I became so lonely. When you’re with someone who doesn’t care about your views, and has no desire to understand you, it’s worse than being alone. I still loved him though. I knew that he’d had a hard life. I told myself that I had to make sacrifices to build a family. But one morning I woke up and decided that I couldn’t do it anymore. If I stayed in the relationship, I would lose myself completely. I remember it was raining that morning. There was mud in the streets. And something told me: ‘Today is the day.’ That was two years ago. I’ve spent these last two years learning to be alone. I’m realizing the things that I like to do. I feel better, I look better, and I’ve been sharing more of myself with others. I feel like I’m finally learning who I am.” (St. Petersburg, Russia)

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