Meeting them brought me back again to a period of suitcases and unwashed socks, of currency and passports exchange offices and train schedules, of sunlight at new mornings and angles tinged with the excitement of new sights.
It’s been a long time since I am internationally.
But upon a period once, that’s who I was. At 15, I saved enough money cleaning offices to fly to Finland for three weeks. At 18, For per year i returned. I am to Sweden, Norway, and Russia when it had been the Soviet Union still, plus Canada, Mexico, China and the airport in Tokyo long enough to utilize my most polite college Japanese just.
Each trip was memorable, but when i write this, the Russia trips (I made two) stick out probably the most.
In 1991, Russians were keen for western money. Day in Leningrad &mdash one; st now. Petersburg — artists corralled my friends and me into an certain area under a balcony and began sketching our faces. Two artists started sketching me, each hurrying to complete and sell me his version of my face first. Dazed somewhat, I picked the main one I liked best and handed him about $5 in Finnish currency.
It was a good likeness fairly. It captured my wispy hair, the optical eye patch I was wearing for contamination, my still-forming adult face.
In exactly the same city, A church had been left by me service whenever a strange man approached me on the steps. In broken English, he asked easily was an American, so when I said I was, he pleaded with me to invite him to america.
“The only method I get visa is someone in the us invite me,” he explained. He was thin, in his 30s or 40s perhaps, and his intensity scared me just a little.
“What would you like to do in the us?” I asked, stalling for time.
“Oh!” he said, consuming a deep breath. “I would like to walk and start to see the sky and breathe the air and understand that I am in the us!”
Humbled, uncertain, I took his address and name. I promised to see if there is something my children could do, understanding that it could not happen probably. My children saw worldly everyone outside our church as, as untrustworthy, plus they wouldn’t normally be wanting to invite a strange Russian man to go to.
It proved when i thought. Back at school in Finland once, I contacted my mom about inviting him. She discouraged this strongly.
“We have no idea him,” she said. “We have no idea his motive or what he’d want from us.”
So I threw away the man’s name and address. I tried never to think about him in Leningrad still, waiting, hoping, being unsure of that his possiblity to reach our shores was disintegrating in a landfill.
Life lessons shall find you irrespective of where you are, whether you won’t ever leave your hometown for one minute or whether your passport is filled up with stamps from exotic ports.
But stepping right into a foreign country explains something you shall never find on your own native turf. An appreciation on your own land, for certain, and about connection also, how all of us in this vast and tiny globe of ours are tied together, whether it’s known by us or not.
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“It’s Our Turn” is really a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.
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