Tanya. Polina Soyref, portrait photographer

Tanya, 23

interviewed on 22 May 2020

There were no signs of trouble: I had two jobs, both offline, I had some peace in life. I used to work in a school-based children’s centre, difficult children come there, children with family problems: this centre was made so they wouldn’t just smoke behind the fence, they learn English here. And my second job was to earn money — I worked in an amber store, it was that kind of store that you see at every corner, with amber more ancient than your great-grandmother, and, of course, you can’t buy it online at all, it’s cut out for tourists. I also study half a day.

Everything was kind of going well: work, study, apartment, relationship, friends, and all of it was great until coronavirus struck. As it turns out — my life was a very flimsy construction. It was peaceful at first: in January, February we had Chinese tourists visit our store, no one was afraid of the virus and in March I travelled to Denmark to volunteer for a project. And then it became scary: when I left, the country was quiet and beautiful, with lots of people and when I came back on March 13th, the borders were already closing. I came back to a town where people would not get closer than 2 meters to you.

Before it all went downhill, I had a small conflict with neighbours I shared an apartment with, and I think the virus scared them so much they decided to change the locks on the door and not let me in when I came back.

Plus I also paid the rent on March 9th, we pay a month ahead, mortgage too. And I just got done paying for my studies and there were some other spendings, basically, I was broke. And that was the money I earned in two months. I didn’t have a contract; the landlord said he doesn’t care. And my friend, who told me “I love you”, just packed my things, took her gifts out of my belongings, postcards, was it really necessary to take the postcards too? She took my “Smena” camera too. Didn’t mommy tell you, that you shouldn’t take back your gifts? Anyway, they just packed everything in one day, belongings, delicates, jewellery, money, moved it all to the garage, and didn’t tell me a thing. Didn’t let me in the apartment, didn’t allow me to take something myself. And my boyfriend also didn’t offer very much support, every time I told him I’m going to go there and stand up for myself, he would say: “Why bother?”

Who’s going to listen to you — you’re just a 23-year-old girlie.

This sort of situation doesn’t fill me with self-confidence and on top of that I can’t go to work or study, at some point I felt as if I’m simply worthless.

It was scary, unpleasant, I felt insecure, unheard, unable to do anything. All in all, during the pandemic, the impostor syndrome took over me. I don’t even believe that I can do anything, all the kids will be left unsaved and amber will stay unsold, oh, amber, I’m mostly sad for amber, of course.

It’s a good thing though that I have friends; I’m living with one right now, in our first apartment we rented together a long time ago. And actually, I had people to talk to about me getting kicked out and no matter how much I say things like: “why I am even living here? Giving it my all, trying to learn the language if no one even cares? “, there are good people after all and it was really nice to know that.

“Tell me your story”