Adjusting to America

I am Columbus

By Natalia Tkachenko

The source of the river. In accordance with life you settle down on the new place, it becomes harder and harder to force yourself to make notches for the memory… There passed a year from the time we came to the US. It looks like the human thoughts structured from the chaos of emotions and reminiscences make the writings, as well as small mollusk, suffering from the sand drop inside its shell, making pearl from it…

The times of the paper from the beach trees dates back in centuries. And even the beginning of my carrier in journalism in Moldova at the end of 1980-th with the typing texts on the printing machines is now also what the far past! But I am not old yet. I am only 36. But how many things are squeezed and compressed in those thirty-six. The first, warmest reminiscences of acknowledging myself while I was five years old child, sitting on the couch and mother explained to me where is the left and where is the right hand. Right is this, which is next to the door; it means that the left is that is next to the window. The flat was small, tiny room with the kitchen in the hostell. And as soon as I learnt how to be oriented in the space of my sprawled hands (may be even in those times in order to hug all the world) we relocated. Because our father got our own new flat from the tractor factory he worked at. I am five and a half years old those days…

I clearly remember how we walked for ten minutes after the final stop of trolley bus towards the new house (now there is in fact the center of the huge district with such wild traffic!) And those past days we climbed for long into the emptiness of the hill, where now are growing the sky scrapers, through the waste grounds, which in those days you could hardly call a street (now there is the suffocation of the mini markets and the human fuss near the new entertainment center) far and far up to the house with the big hole for the new building in front of it (oh, God, how many childish unforgettable games were played on this building development!) towards our gate, in front of which nothing grew. Now there towered with the same high as my five stores house the poplars of pyramid's shape. Really our is only what we gave back, what does not belong to us any more, that's why I am saying now "my" house. I am with some unusual childish intuition remember, that I throw back my head and as if something stitched me: this window in the forth floor will be ours, as if somebody said this to me… Later it happened in reality. And we settled with the parents into the new nice two bedrooms in the five-store building…

It will be later when in our life will appear my brother, the parents will brought him from the maternity house while I will be already seven, and I was rooted to the spot and putting my hand into my sides with the master's intonations in voice will say, opening the door to them: "I knew for sure he would cry!"

And then will walked and run years of my childhood, when I was studying in English school, was trained in musical school, took care about clean in apartment and helped my mother to baby-sit the brother. And this way will flew by the whole decade…

The red, middle line. And there I am 17 years old girl with the bag in my hands and the father in the role of escort, settling down into the student's hotel of Moscow State University, which I had luck to enter as soon as graduated the high school with golden medal (highest rewards). I am watching the walls of this "new" house, where I need to live the closest five years, along those walls are running the small bug-crouched with big mustache and think with disgust: "Probably, after the graduation the student populations have only one desire - to return home as soon as possible!"

I did not want to return back home after I graduated - I wonder why? But I had nowhere to go, any case. I was 22 and I was alone as this from famous movie the poplar of the Pluchiha Street. My university love with the marriage consequences did not succeed, because my boyfriend was like worker who operated several machines (girls) simultaneously. And from no escape (alas, there was no new big destiny for me in Moscow or somewhere else in Russia, although I loved Siberian, from the heart of this land!) as a compromise with my own morality I returned back home, to Moldova, to my parent's oven.

And there started my new working life. Moscow holidays, which I was gifted by so generous in all its historical and cultural variety, were ended. Now I had only never ending business trips as a representative of the republican newspaper to the small counties and villages, where readers of periodical lived, thorough work on improving the style and literary language of journalist, the intrigues of much more adult colleges from professional department - oh, with what only I was not faced in this new for me year 1988! After year and a half, already got my hand in journalistic, I jumped into the marriage like a bird of passage. Probably, many of those who now is still working in the Moldovan Press House remembered this much talked-of case. Or may be it only seemed to me that it was notorious affair?

We could stand it with him only for the couple of years, while our daughter was born and got on her own feet. He was completely useless creature in the house, because from 6 o'clock morning till 12 midnights he spent in his newspaper. I once decided that even if I could keep him as a lover, he had no chances to be any longer my husband, and collecting my staff and participating before leaving in the prestige CIS competition "Miss Journalistic" in Moscow, I returned back to my parent's house, where already the whole year was widowed my father (my mother, alas, passed away prematurely, untimely)…

There start new drab routine and new weekdays. Year 1992. The Soviet Union already collapsed, and I was left in the small nationalistic republic with the impoverished economy. I need to learn those days how not only to live myself, but how to survive together with my daughter Anastasia, how to grow her, on what to upkeep. I had no other helpers in those days. Of course, even now I want to miss from my description this the dullest part of my story of resistance and overcoming the life and its troubles. I want to say only that as some people tell on the East: "The way you measure, you will be measured" and "all that The God wants you to pass, you'll make", because we are facing only those tasks, which we are able to handle.

Now, when I overview the events of the past days from the distance of decade, I still can hardly understand: whether I did it? Whether overcame? And in my words - there is no sadness, no joy and no anger - just emptiness. As if the protest from the strange ingredient inside my body. It was I. But already not I. It was somebody I knew. And who passed this entire not childish road, all this adult way.

I am, sitting now in the warmth of American comfort, which was not arranged by me, can afford this luxury - reminiscences. A lot of those who were left over there, in my past, and still rolls like the squirrels the circle-go-round could not allow the same: the lushness of memories, the splendor of denial, the magnificence of security and comfort. I will say only one thing: I do not need the attractions, which will freeze the soul, I do not need extreme tourism - I had all these before, over there. This initiation, this reincarnation. And I do not want back - alas to those who still love me. Even if I would be rewarded by free (usually such expensive) round trip tickets or other treasures. I just simply do not want back to the past. I do not want to allow to come inside me again all this reminiscences that all this years crucified my in my conscious…

The mouth of the river with the name "Life". You know, I just finished to write those lines and got up form the computer, then again returned back and sit to continue- and do not know for sure where will take me this time the energy of thoughts. The pain of the first year in the new country on the new continent has gone. There happened the denial of the past life. There happened the birth of new "I". And thanks for the people and the life that they took me after the crash into this island, full of green leaves, singing of birds and the…hopes! And indifferent what destiny can occur with me, what will happen to me, I am even today, blessed and damned at the same time with a lot of people over there, will never tired to thank the chance by those gifted for me with the break in one year of silence these TWO life's. One - that was left over the other side of the ocean and this that I am only going to embody.

I feel thankfulness to my parents, who presented the life to me and to this huge continent - America, who granted to me the new destiny. I am - the Columbus, whose ship cracked new the new shores and never returned back to his own land…

I am welcoming you, new life with the open visor!

January, 2003.


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