This is my life now

You are living your perfectly ordinary comfortable life. Work, fitness three times a week, meeting with friends over a good steak or occasional cocktail. Online shopping, lots of reading and TV shows. A well-known routine.

It starts slowly. You don’t notice it at first, or maybe you are actually trying very hard not to notice. First thing that finally hits you is the prices. You used to know them by heart, but suddenly they are all over the place. Some things go up a little, some by a hundred percent. There is no obvious reason just yet.

From the moment you acknowledge it, the pressure starts to build up. It’s mostly the little things, but it’s a ton of the little things. Taxis don’t arrive on time or arrive at all; it’s a burden to find ATM that still has money, and not a single store has the card terminal; you can’t get all your usual stuff at one supermarket, you now have to visit three to cover your grocery list, and queues are everywhere. You lose your cellphone number of 12 years. Your ISP gets blocked for a couple of days, and you are not waiting for the second time for sure, you switch to another one and wait for 5 days for the tech guy to get to you. There is no way to pay for it online. There is no way to pay for anything online anymore. You have to go to the post office or a bank to cover your bases. And there will be a queue.

Actually, queues are probably the worst part. All the elderly are there, getting their pensions or trying to pay the house bills. They are legion. It sounds cynical but after a couple of hours it seems like they came there for social interaction. Shouting is the only way of communication, and they are great at it. Post office workers shout back. Their computers don’t have the new payment system, so everything is done by hand. They write down countless checks and it is a slow, painstaking process. You get shouted at by a grandpa who feels that you might be trying to skip the line. When you look the other way, he grabs you by the hand. You bark at him to mind his own business since you are in a completely different queue. When all hope is gone, you finally make it out there alive and mostly unscathed, leaving your dignity behind. The next queue is waiting for you.

You are now living in the mode of ‘will this finally end?’ When there is no mental strength left, power outages start. At first it’s a couple of hours a day. You take it in stride. There is nothing you can do. Then the schedule comes. 2 hours of power, 2 hours of blackout. Rinse, repeat. Morning to midnight. How is that for a weekend? A full day of no outages is rare. Electricity is wonderful, you are thinking, I need you in my life, come to mama!

The prices continue to rise. Now there is a reason for that, or at least something that counts as one — the rouble is going down hard, and now it actually affects you too. You see people carrying a TV box under each arm out of the mall, you barely survive an encounter with a refrigerator coming at you through the sliding doors, and there is no Apple iPad Air 2 left in the vicinity. Prices are high but they haven’t caught up with the rouble downfall just yet.

It’s the first year in the recent decade that you haven’t travelled at all. You still have your passport but to obtain any visas you have to go to another country now. By train that used to take 16 hours to get there, and now takes at least 20. There are no flights, and everybody remembers that unlucky Malaysian plane. This is the year when your сlose friends suddenly become very remote — literally. Half of your group has moved, and you are the one left behind. Maybe you should go too. But your life is here. What life?

You pick up freelancing again (for the money, obviously)— you are still struggling with the fact that everything has changed and trying to grab at the remnants of familiarity. Your online shopping becomes an obsession — anything that brings a sparkle of joy is a go, and to hell with the fact that you can’t afford any of it. You distract yourself with shiny things and worry that the shoe won’t fit because it is easier than worrying about everything else. You abandon fitness because it takes too much time and effort, and you are sleep-deprived due to extra work hours.

You have lived through a month without salary already. European bank decided that EU sanctions were applicable to that transfer, so the money went back. Of course, they are not applicable yet, and with some effort your bosses push the money through, but you can see the future. You just don’t want to believe it.

Then the day comes when US decides that all that shit just was not enough. You get an email from your freelancing platform support team that your account is blocked and all funds are frozen because of where you live. Merry fucking Christmas. You are not alone, of course, many of your friends are hit too. Will the salary come through? Happy New Year!

Which thing will be taken away next is the song stuck on repeat in your mind. Will your ridiculously overpriced phone stop working because you decided to keep living where you lived all your life? Will you have to change not just your job but what you actually do for a living to continue providing for yourself and your parents? Will you have to leave them behind and move too?

Merry fucking Christmas.

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