I was born the same month as the collapse of the USSR. It was a very challenging time. Cards were given to families to receive produce and essentials such as toilet paper and soap. My mother told me that, just because I was born, we were entitled to one more piece of soap!
We didn’t have much growing up, but nature around was abundant—my family had a garden close to our home, and it was our weekend escape, especially in the summer. We had many different trees, from walnut to hazelnut trees, plums and cherries, and we grew vegetables and fruits. I tended the garden myself from a very young age but had a completely different view about it than I do today. I had a different relationship with nature and was taking it for granted—the neighbouring river, the woods where we would play, the fresh air. I really enjoyed being in nature. It was our playground, our happy place.
I adored my upbringing but always felt there was much more for me to see and experience. I knew there was a whole world outside of my little world. I was fortunate enough to go to NYC to model at the age of 16. After overcoming the initial culture shock, I fell in love with the city and its never-ending possibilities.
The busy streets, fashionable people, sparking storefronts—it was all so thrilling, almost out of a movie. Even the honking, the traffic, and especially riding the subway was exciting! That distinguished, NYC subway smell and the please-stand-clear-of-the-closing-doors announcement still gives me chills for some reason. It was a totally different reality I found myself in. New York was and always will feel expansive, exciting, and powerful. I learned what it truly means when they say, “there is no place like NY”. I became a proud New Yorker.
This city absorbed me, and it became my home. And like anywhere else but especially here, time flies. Fast forward ten years and my daughter was born. Life slowed down and became simple again. Little things became important, especially after the start of the Covid pandemic. During these months, our daughter started walking and soon running, and our apartment started feeling smaller then I was used to. Even the park somehow became smaller in my mind. I started reminiscing about my childhood. About the fresh air, fields to run in, more distance for my eyes to gaze, daydreaming, and wishing it for my daughter.
I love the city, and always will, but days like these, being able to escape, are always healing for the soul. Being in nature feeds my happy childhood memories and brings joy to my daughter. The moment we stepped into the woods, the smell of earth calmed us down and we reconnected, just enough to recharge.
Words & Muse. Olesia Anisimovich
Photographed by Gaja Kutnjak