My father lived in this neighborhood as a kid - before the war, during the occupation, and for a while after the war as well, I guess. I don't think their building is still there. I have a vague memory of where it must have been.
It hurts when I try to remember more: instead of papa's childhood stories, I recall very vividly how I went searching this area for him in July 2007, how I was showing his photo to the people who seemed local or semi-local to me (some elderly person, and a parking lot attendant). What if papa had tricked himself into thinking he was a little boy again - what if he was trying to find his way back to his childhood home? Every step I took back then was fueled by some tiny, seemingly rational hope like this one.
For the past few years, I've been trying to reclaim Kyiv. Not all of it: I have no plans of going close to the Botanical Garden ever again, and I always feel numb when I pass Vydubychi. But then there's also this street, and a number of other places that are so much about papa's pre-2007 life that I know I won't dwell on those horrible memories forever. It just takes time, somewhat longer than elsewhere.
Yesterday, at some point, it began to feel so good to stare at all these buildings on my way up towards St. Sophia, that by the time I reached the top of the hill, I was actually thinking about my own childhood more than anything else. How steep this hill used to seem when I was little, and how easy it is to conquer it now. How lazy I used to be as a kid, and how far I'm capable of walking now. How proud papa would have been of me. (And, even more so, of Marta, who is always excited about our walking tours and can walk almost as much as I do without getting too tired.)