I woke up today in Lviv to be visited by a kitten who met me at the window as soon as I woke up. I let her in, and she toured the place. I gave her something to eat and then she ran off, and I haven’t seen her since.
I gathered myself and went out to see what Lviv is like during the day, and it felt remarkably like a day in any other beautiful city. Nothing is bombed out. It's just beautiful--old buildings, cobblestone streets, trams running, fancy dress shops, restaurants, Apple stores. Everything is running. Shops are full, and people are living their lives. You'd think it was any other European place.
I went along and wound up at the Ukrainian Catholic University. I was referred there by Father Yaroslav in Boston, and sure enough it's another beautiful modern place with students running about. I sat down with the media director and arranged an interview for tomorrow. We talked about life and their enclave, and how normal everything seemed. I asked him about their recent bombings and sure enough one of the bombings last Saturday, a missile strike not even a week ago, had lit up a fireball about a mile from the campus, obviously changing the lives of everyone there--and yet, they were all still just going about their business.
So, that was my day. I walked back in the rain during rush hour and all felt very normal. I got back, got myself organized, and went out to eat. I was all on my own in a beautiful restaurant that could have been on South Beach or just about any other hip place in the United States, but there was no one there because of the ten o’clock curfew.
Along the way I had taken some footage of an army outpost I ran across, sand-bagged and soldiers out, and sure enough, as I walked along a couple of soldiers chased me down and demanded I delete the videos. I did, of course, and they checked my passport again. I must’ve had my passport checked ten times in the last day. They let me on my way.
Now here I am, at night, in my room, getting ready for the interview we’re going to do tomorrow at the university. I open the window and it’s raining, and I realize how strange it is to be in a place where seemingly everything’s normal, and yet there’s the threat of a missile coming in and hitting just about anywhere in the city. So far, the Russians have chosen semi-military targets. They haven’t hit the middle of Lviv like they have so many other places in the east and the south, and tried to in Kyiv, but all of these places are holding. The Ukrainian military is amazing to everyone, how strong they are with the backup they're receiving from the United States and other NATO allies, and yet if you're a citizen in the city--and of course I wasn't here when the missile struck, and I probably won’t be here when they do again--you realize what a strange idea it is that here you are on a lovely night, and there's no guarantee the missile won’t come right in your door.
Tomorrow, back to the school, and I hit the road.