"Russia is dead!" cried the old beggar woman, looking at me. "Ti shto, baba? Zachem priyehala?"
Why had I come indeed.
I stepped off the last rung of the detachable rolling staircase that was docked with the transcontinental airplane, using my right foot to make the first step onto land, for good luck.
Underneath me, underneath the concrete, ancient Moscow earth.
Fifty years stood between my last step and this one. Fifty years ago, as a girl of eight, I had taken a similar step, right foot first, upon the superstitious urging of my mother, onto an old Aeroflot plane. At the height of the Cold War, I was leaving the country of my birth forever, with all its stagnation and rancid Soviet decay.
And now, here I was again, at the time of Closing.
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