October 23, 2020 / Leave a Comment
“Being too nice? It may be worth thinking twice”
“Who are you to judge the life I live?
I know I’m not perfect
-and I don’t live to be-
but before you start pointing fingers…
make sure your hands are clean!”
Living Under Communists
No, I do not have photos from my childhood, when I was growing up, none from graduation or any other event in my life, any tiniest memorabilia, nothing personal whatsoever. You know, I’m an immigrant, and “political refugee” to make it “stronger”.
(Please note: My husband was with me with the same status, but due to some emotional part of this I write in my name only…)
I lost everything, and it feels like I would have also lost the whole life I lived before I came to the USA.
My property would be confiscated when I do not return in a certain time frame, just to be arrested.
So, I came to the USA one day, and now what? Of course, I came to start all over, start my life all over.
I wasn’t an “economy” refugee, I was “The other” that difficult kind, who came barehanded, who couldn’t bring any money, any possession, nothing. That was the choice.
Or need? Or to prove something? Conviction?
I do not wish to make an analysis of what led to all this or tell the story behind the story. I just would like to reveal how one emigrant started a new life in a new world…
I started in N.Y.C. knowing no one, knowing no way of life there, speaking broken English (no university can teach you what you need in real life and the same is with language) no experience, no money. As I’ve mentioned, political emigrants couldn’t have it, ever, (just those who could come without such a burden could take some possessions with them) so being just a lost soul in a sea of strangers…
It is very difficult for anyone to imagine how unbelievably hard it is to start a new life for an immigrant in a strange country. Sometimes even impossible if one is not strong enough.
Or at least it was for those who obtained legal permission for US entry in another country from the US embassy located there. Such as West Germany in my case.
But the interrogation, suspicion, you name it…was very humiliating. We both had to wait for 6 months for that visa, being left to fend for ourselves, having no status of any kind, at that point belonging to nowhere.
What’s more, the US ambassador in Germany insisted that we might possibly be communists…(think of logic…someone running from communist being communist”… so we had to have several appointments with him, also he insisted that I must have a better understanding of what he was telling me in English (I never before talked with any English speaking person (just school classes), we had to go through x-rays, to make sure we do not carry tuberculosis, etc…simply humiliating all over…
For real communists it wasn’t impossible to get a visa directly to the US from their own country (although the better name would be spies) they did not need to wait elsewhere, destitute, being humiliated in the process. However, I must say that after all, the Germans helped a bit, with some money and accommodation.
Then in the US nobody helped. I earned every penny by working and the ONLY gift I’ve ever received was one “Kennedy dollar” from a grandmother of the boy I was baby-sitting.
I must add a note, that today any illegal coming here has “roses to smell” comparing what we, Europeans went through at those times…
So, iron will, strong desire, hard work, being ready to accept abuse, being ridiculed for accent, not having a resume, cannot prove any experience, going through desperation, loneliness, must accept any work for any money at the beginning, that was life at the time starting over …and I can go on and on. …
And then, especially when one feels sad, hits remorse and regret all losses, family, personal things, such as photos, small collections of personal valuables, not to mention all the rest… lost forever, knowing that you can never return if the regime in your country won’t change…I could write a book, highly emotional…
While I was babysitting I was constantly hunting for some normal job, but many companies did not accept me because I had only a “green card” and not citizenship status. Can you imagine something like that today? When I obtained my first decent job, I worked endless hours overtime, including weekends, (fortunately the company I worked for had a season and appreciated that, but not with money as much 😉 and I saved and saved, living frugal life to the extreme. If we need to eat I had to get not only food but also plates and spoons…table, bed…you get a picture. I have sewn and knitted my own clothes, cooked everything (which I do always, here just saving was The element of utmost importance) taking some lunch to work, just to save…Fortunately, the location of the first company we worked in was only 45 minutes’ walk, so we didn’t have to pay for public transportation. There was no rest, no fun, no relief, not free Saturday, nothing, for many years.
I’m a very proud woman and at the time I would never admit what I admit today. Today belongs to another category, another “century” the rest is just past.
Just had to work and get ahead, that was all. So here it is…how Eastern Europeans started lives in the USA.
Compare with other immigrants (shall not name nations) coming today…
No money, no job, no place to live? But things have a habit to change if one can help it, won’t they?
They eventually did even for us…
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
And I did that, accepted the hard, looking up to better tomorrows…
Thank you for reading… the next 5 parts would bring the facts, for you most likely quite interesting and informative, not personal.
Photo is with the first dog I had in the US, Rottweiler, named Brit at our first house we bought in upstate New York.
Parts of the series:
*Behind Iron Curtain
*Toilet Paper Lines
*The Finger Theory
*Absolutely Politically Incorrect
February 9, 2021
“If you believe that America is too smug, too self-satisfied, too rich, then let’s destroy America. It is not that hard to do. No nation in history has survived the ravages of time. Arnold Toynbee observed that all great civilizations rise and fall.