Coming To America (Russian Style)

12:48 PM


We came to America in 1998. In December. With exactly nine black, fake Addidas duffle bags containing our belongs (mainly daddy's books for his dissertation). We left a frigid and gray Russia for JFK and eventually the whitewashed fields of rural Wisconsin. I was twelve. To me America was Herbal Essences shampoo, Thanksgiving or my idea of it (feathers on your head and pilgrims) and money. Lots and lots of money. The scene from DuckTales where Scrooge McDuck jumps in essentially a pool of money was my idea of American life and when we arrived at JFK that Christmas season I thought we were pretty close. The gleaming floors, the jazz crooning out of invisible speakers and friendly looking Christmas trees bedecked with red bows all spoke of affluence; affluence that was available for all. It was bewitching.
My road to America actually began with a foretaste of it back in 1990. I was four and had, up until that point, lived my life in central Russia (the outskirts of Moscow). We moved to Michigan for just under two years while daddy completed his masters. I don't remember much except that we were very poor, I had a preschool teacher that used to hit me and my brother used to cry a lot (he was very sick at the time unbeknownst to me). So back then America was just a blip. By early 1992 we were back in Russia. I went to first grade there and started my long career of being a teacher's pet. Then in 1993 we moved to England, Oxford, to be exact. I adored it there but that's another very long story.
In 1996 we moved back to Russia. I had a British accent and an impressive arsenal of Barbie dolls. I was ten. We moved in the summer with a small trailer that my parents attached to our white Volvo. The trailer was chock full of our "British" belongings, including a broom that I remember daddy valiantly stuffing into a crack right before we pulled away from "7 Botley Road" (I still remember the address). That June was unbearably hot and dusty in Russia. Once again that's another even longer story for another day.
And now we're back to 1998, that December. That December began my lifelong love affair with America. I fell in love with cowboys, window clings, Britney Spears, snowshoeing, chili, s'mores (full disclosure - I love the idea of s'mores more than the s'mores themselves), Halloween, Wal-mart, Trapper Keepers, Lisa Frank, eyeliner, hot dogs and Christmas (BIG TIME). America... America... how I love thee.
In the fifteen years that I've lived here I was blessed with the opportunity to see/live in all parts of America - the South (Tennessee and South Carolina), North (Wisconsin), East (MD/DC/VA) and the West (California). It's been a wild & crazy ride but I can honestly say I've loved it all. I keep a little piece of all these places in my heart always. I still say y'all every once in a while (used to say "ah" instead of "I" for a while there), still think that nobody does a Friday night fish fry like a lakefront restaurant in Wisconsin and I'll admit that there's nothing quite like the way the ocean takes your breath away as you round certain corners on the PCH and the sun hits the water from just the right angle. And you will most certainly make me salty if you jone on my city that I get so siced for (DC slang anyone? anyone?).
So that in a nutshell is my coming to America. Whoever thought a Russian girl could get so swept up in a country so different from her own? And you know the best part?! I'm still finding things to fall in love with! That's true love right there!

I hope that gives you a little window into me and my little corner of the internet! 

Y'all come back now!

image credits (1) & (2)

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14 notes

  1. I loved reading this post. What I would also like to know is if you still speak Russian with your family? And if so will you teach your daughter? I'm Belgian and I live here with my husband who's South African. He was born in SA and lived there until he was 21. At 21 he moved to London and lived there for 8 years and then 2 years ago he came to Belgium and here we are. I don't think I could ever leave this place.

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    1. So glad you enjoyed it Jo! Yes I still speak in Russian with my family. We even text in Russian :). I am already in the process of teaching Birdie Russia, it's the language I primarily speak in with her. I've always wanted to visit Belgium! How lucky for you to live there! xo

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  2. WOW! So glad you took the time to write (type) it down. SO interesting!
    xxx

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  3. Aw, I work in the immigration field, but my clients rarely share with me their personal feelings on the experience of having lived in multiple varied environments. I love hearing about the experience from the perspective of a child going through it.

    Thanks so much for sharing,

    Sarah

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    1. You're welcome! So glad you enjoyed it! :) xo

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  4. What a great story! I loved reading about your coming to America and am so inspired.

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  5. I loved reading this post about your traveling childhood! Especially since I will be doing that soon here across the country. Where abouts in TN and SC did you live?

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    1. So happy you enjoyed it! It was fun to reminisce :). In TN I lived in Chattanooga and in SC I lived in a small town called Rock Hill (about 30 minutes from Charlotte, NC). Good luck to you! xo

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  6. such a wide and varied life - it's amazing all the different places life will take us if we let it. thanks for sharing this story - it's heartening to be reminded of all the promise this country can offer.

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    1. Yes it is! You are very welcome! Happy you enjoyed it! :) xo

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  7. Ahh, I love this post! (And based on some prior posts I'd be willing to bet your dad did his master's at the same place where my ex-in-laws went when they very first moved here from Iceland.) So cool getting a glimpse of the places you've been and how you got where you are. Sometimes I say y'all ... thanks Tennessee, haha.

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    1. Thank you so much Jacki! :) I miss Tennessee :) xo

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