At 5 a.m. on February 24, 2022, my husband woke me up in our Kyiv apartment. He had heard explosions.
In complete darkness, I tried to dress and pack documents, a laptop, and cash into a backpack. Immediately I started experiencing nausea, diarrhea, and pain in the bottom of my stomach. My period began three weeks earlier than it normally would (something that also happened to many Ukrainian women with whom I’ve spoken). And I also had COVID.
We went to our relatives’ place, as they had a basement.
On February 10, 2023, we were still in Kyiv, and I was once again ill with COVID. Russia continues to attack my country with missiles from jets and a frigate in the Black Sea, so I hear air raids almost constantly. But this morning, my husband woke me up and said, “Morning bombardments again, so we are going out to eat waffles.”
Our emergency backpacks—containing vital documents, cash, tactical first aid kit, knife, protein bars, coffee beans in chocolate, torch, lighters, warm socks, gloves, and a laptop with a power source—are always near our front door. This morning, we picked them up, and walked out—to a waffle cafe, located in a basement, with a sign on the door reading, “We Do Not Work During Massive Shellings!!!”
It’s been one year since Russia escalated its war on Ukraine to one of nationwide, full-scale military aggression. The act of going out for waffles is one way we try—despite living under mortal threats and enduring the collapse of the lives we once lived—to recreate what was once a normal world. These old routines don’t feel the same, though they are valuable as they give us the fleeting comfort of feeling we can control at least this one little thing.
Great danger forces you to appreciate basic things. Small stories make up big landscapes, like going out for waffles during airstrikes. Here are some reflections on living my life during wartime. [Continue reading…]