My relationship with my Dad was not the easiest: we were so alike that all of his flaws were magnified in my estimation and bugged me disproportionately. But it was not always this way. When I was a kid in Odessa, we were really close. He told me tall tales to get me to eat my dinner, he took me for walks, he told me stories about our city. He instilled his love of Odessa in me, a love which I had forgotten until just the last couple of weeks.
I arrived on a plane from Istanbul on Wednesday morning. The airport is a tiny one-story building with an attached airfield. Its only concession to modernity is buses that cart passengers between the building and the aircrafts. Stepping out of the plane, I sensed something achingly familiar in the light, the smells and sounds of the city. And this sense was to persist through the three days that I spent there.
I went to the most treasured of places in Odessa, the Opera Theater. I sat in the sixth row, close enough to smell the make up. It was Rigoletto, and as Gilda was singing her aria, I could feel my Dad next to me, nodding and humming along with the music, as he always used to do. And I finally understood his years of silent longing for this most unpretentiously beautiful of all cities I have ever been to. Because if you ever visit Odessa, it will happen to you too.