July 20, 2005
'I've got to celebrate you, baby, I've got to praise you like I should'
Today is 27 years that I'm in America. You can read my post about becoming a citizen here although, sadly, the adorable picture of me in my pink dress isn't coming up.
I'm going to drink a bottle of Clicquot tonight with my mother and reminisce about our early American days on Foster Avenue in Brooklyn when everything was new and scary and hopeful. We'll call my brother in Spain and tell him how lucky he is to be the first person in our family born in America. We'll wonder how our lives would've been if we had stayed in the Soviet Union. We'll toast to her side of the family that never made it out, my aunt, her aunt, my grandparents. We'll remember her father who she never saw again. We'll talk with amazement about my grandmother and my greataunt. My father had been the one who always wanted to leave. He was an only child, raised by his mother, aunt and grandmother. When he decided to leave, his mother and her sister knew they had to go too. By the luck of the draw, they were allowed to leave first. They left in '75, two women over 50 starting life in a new country. Neither spoke any English and didn't know for sure that my father would even be allowed to join them. Neither ever saw Russia again. We'll tell these two stories:
1. My father's father left his family when my father was in his early teens. They had minimal to no contact through the entirety of my father's life after that point. When my father applied to leave the Soviet Union, at age 30, he was told that he would need the permission of both parents to get out. He found and contacted his father, asking him for the permission. He was informed a few weeks later that his father had said no. My father tells the story of his being at work and finding out the news. He was a doctor at a hospital and he said out loud 'well, I guess I'm going to have to kill him' (it's not exactly a secret where I get it). He went to his father's house and found he was not home, though his wife was. My father elected to wait, only mildly threatening her with death if her husband didn't sign the paper to let him out. Basically, by the time he came home my father had convinced her that America was the place to be and she was sold on getting out. I don't know what happened after that but needless to say that bastard signed the paper.
2. My mother was pregnant with me when my father got permission to leave Russia. She was turned down. Furthermore, if they remained married, he wouldn't be allowed to leave either. They hatched a plot to get out and it worked. They divorced publicly, and remarried in secret right before he left. Once he was out, they couldn't keep him apart from his pregnant wife. She was allowed to leave soon after.
I love this country. I am so blessed to be here.Posted by Karol at July 20, 2005 11:17 AM | TrackBack
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