Before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, our life in Canada used to be so different.
Before the war in Ukraine…
I used to wake up at 6 am and hit the gym by 6:30, feeling energized before half of the world opened their eyes. Now I can barely drag myself out of bed at 9 am, feeling exhausted, lifeless, unmotivated to move or enjoy life.
I used to check my phone for funny TikTok videos when I got out of bed. I used to start my mourning with meditation and journaling setting up the right mood for the day ahead. Now I spend the first 30-40 minutes of my morning scrolling through the news of Ukrainian Truth, Meduza, Telegram, BBC, CNN, and YouTube to discover another number of innocent people killed in Ukraine while I was carelessly sleeping in a safe bed.
I used to kiss my boyfriend in the morning and chat with him about meetings, plans, goals for the day. Now we do not discuss routine things – it seems abnormal to talk about a silly zoom meeting when Mariupol city is suffering a horrendous humanitarian crisis with thousands people trapped in the basements of their houses.
I used to complain about spending too much time in the house during the pandemic. Now I shut my mouth when I want to complain about my house – millions lost their cozy homes fleeing the war zone in Ukraine.
I used to think I don’t want kids at the moment and that I need to focus on my career at this stage of my life. Now I talk to my boyfriend about the possibility of adopting a child who lost family during the war in Ukraine.
I used to call my family in Russia and discuss my dog’s colour of poop, the difficult students I have this semester, and my summer plans and job prospects. Now when I call them on WhatsApp (which, miraculously, is still working in Russia), we talk about iodine tablets in case of nuclear war and the refugee application in case they have to flee the Putin’s regime.
I used to laugh at my boyfriend’s obsession with politics. Now I cannot stop watching political videos analyzing, predicting, expecting, explaining the unexplainable.
I used to enjoy the first glass of Pinot Noir on a Friday night, loosening up after all the classes, all the students’ questions and concerns. Now if wine makes me loose and I accidentally crack up a smile – I feel guilty, ashamed to be happy even for a moment, embarrassed to forget for a second. How can I smile right now when multiple cities are getting buried with tears and cries?
I used to be focused when teaching an online class, marking quizzes ahead of time and managing the zoom time efficiently. Now I frequently get lost in thought, forget about scheduling meetings, and listen to my students while holding my phone under the desk waiting for any alarming notification. It is all seems so irrelevant now.
I used to worry about my sister’s search for a well-paid job, my dad’s sore foot, and my mom’s depression. Now I am deeply worried if they are going to have enough money for food in 1-3 months.
I used to think I would go visit my family in Russia this summer. Now they warn me not to come – what if the country closes its borders and I am forever stuck in that prison?
I used to be proud of Russian culture, literature and music, science and academic achievements. Now I question what it means to be Russian, what I stand for, what my country represents and symbolizes.
I used to read books about wars. Now I am indirectly living through that, and it is directly affecting the family and friends of my Ukrainian boyfriend. And it will directly affect my family in Russia and their future.
We used to have a normal life before. Nothing is normal right now.
But not anymore.