Most visitors to Russia - and even those who have never been there - are familiar with at least two traditional Russian handcrafted items. The first and most widely recognized are the stacking wooden matrushka dolls. The second are the lacquered papier-mâché boxes.
[”The Morning of the Streltsy Execution,” lacquer plaque detail with mother of pearl. Original oil by Vasily Surikov, Tretyakov Gallery Moscow]
The longest I had with a good friend in our current posting was nine months. That was long enough to feel comfortable going up to her apartment when I got mad at my husband. It was long enough for her to tell me she was pregnant before she told any other friends. It was long enough to be able to share a private joke in the company of others, just the two of us laughing.
Just before we moved away from the U.S. to be expats for the first time, I stood on my front porch and observed the homes across the expanse of my rolling neighborhood. Brick fortresses, each with its front door closed tightly.
The years at home raising children, the many moves from one city to another, and all the feelings of isolation that go along with that, I never felt as an expat in Switzerland.