There are certain youthful memories that transcend the past in a way that makes it appear to have been impossibly perfect. This perfection of the past, especially if it occurs in a foreign language, corrects for immigrant anxieties and also compensates for exilic losses.
In the spring of 1985, when the events described here occurred, the political situation in the Soviet Union hardly promised any quick changes of fortune. The “rule of corpses”—Brezhnev’s latter years followed by Andropov’s brief stint on the Soviet throne—had ended in March 1985 with the passing of Konstantin Chernenko. The 54-year-old power-hungry Mikhail Gorbachev had just been elected general secretary of the Communist Party, and his grip on power was still tenuous.
I remember a particularly fine Sunday morning in April of 1985, one of those liberating mornings in Moscow when everybody knows that winter is over. At the time I was a freshman at Moscow University, a kid from a family of veteran Jewish refuseniks. My friend Maxim Mussel (aka “Krolik=Rabbit”), now a marketing guru and a mobile filmmaker, was then a sophomore at the Moscow Electrotechnical Institute of Communications (nicknamed “Institute of Liaisons”). I left the USSR almost 30 years ago; Krolik is still living in Moscow—not far from the old haunts of our raw Soviet youth.