I left Russia the same way I came, friendless. I’ve thought about that time often. Is the Russian culture non-conducive to friendship? Did I do something wrong? Do I really suck that bad? Good questions with no easy answers. However, I wasn’t alone the entire time. For several months I hung out with Max, pictured here a few days before New Years.

Why New Years?

In Russia Christmas is nothing, New Years is everything. Families don’t have Christmas trees, they have New Years trees. Kids get New Years presents and the signs in the mall wish you a happy New Years!

C Новым Годом! 

I spent a memorable New Years in an upscale Moscow restaurant with Max, my girlfriend and a table of Max’s friends. Seeing Max bring us all together I was struck that Russia is not a good fit for him. In his extroverted, gregarious manner he’s a better American than me.