Yesterday (September 26) was a very important day for my entire family. I received American citizenship. To preface all questions - no, I have not given up Ukrainian and do not intend to. Ukraine does not prohibit having two citizenships; dual citizenship is prohibited in Ukraine. That is, for my homeland I will forever remain only a citizen of Ukraine, and that suits me quite well. But it was high time to legitimize relations with my second home.
By the way, about them. I have a complicated relationship with America. Many of my friends tell me how they fell in love with the country from the first step on its soil. It wasn't like that at all for me. The first two years of living here were a test of strength for me. It was MEGA difficult, it completely broke me, and it seems to me that I still haven’t come to my senses after everything that I experienced here. The most important thing is that everything for which I actually flew here fell apart like a house of cards. I was left alone with two thousand dollars in my pocket, with a very vague knowledge of the language and with a complete lack of understanding of what to do next. Lack of money in a foreign country is the best motivation to get out of your comfort zone. After some time, I already had three jobs.
I got up at 5:30 and rushed to the first one. I then worked in a photo studio that photographed children in schools. Every day is a new school. Sometimes it’s 2,5 hours away from my house. Thanks to this job, I now know the New York City subway better than I know how to maintain my kitchen cabinets, and I also know how to make kids laugh. By the way, you had to make the children laugh even when you yourself wanted to hang yourself. Therefore, when it was really bad, I allowed myself to cry in the toilet stalls - and then continue my work with a smile.
Then I flew to Manhattan and usually sat down in a cafe somewhere to do my second job. I wrote articles about New York on it. At the same time, I laughed: if you look from the outside, this is a dream job! An oatmeal latte, a cozy coffee shop and an immersion in the history of one of the most interesting cities on the planet. Yes, from the outside it was like that. In fact, two articles a day, after getting up at 5:30 and trying to make schoolchildren smile until XNUMX pm is a lot. Sometimes I fell asleep with my head on my laptop.
Afterwards, by the way, I didn’t go home at all. Because in the evenings I had language courses. I returned home around midnight, fell, and in the morning everything started all over again. This run only stopped on weekends. Well, how it stopped. On Saturday, most often I had another part-time job as a photo booth operator at parties. Thanks to her, I visited the most glamorous places in Manhattan and the surrounding area. The work was generally wonderful, the team was friendly, but for some reason I remember that I always wanted to sleep, and we rarely returned home before 2 am.
The most difficult thing about this whole race was that I still didn’t understand why it was all for. Well, except that one day one person who played a very evil role in my life told me the phrase: You are not belong here. And I really needed to prove - not to him, he was no longer in my life by that time - but to myself that this was not so.
To keep from going crazy, sometimes I went on dates. Improve your English. And so, at one of them, I met a man with glasses, and I understood why all these hellish two years had happened. Five months later we got married. And the next summer our son was born - and a completely different stage of my American life began.
Since then, almost everything has changed in my life. I have only one job left, I don’t rush around the city like crazy, I, in principle, even sleep enough, but I still can’t find the answer to the question - who should I be in America? I also can’t decide what I feel about this country. One thing is for sure - I am very grateful to her. For my husband, for my son, for learning how resilient I am, for having my own home for the first time in my life, and for realizing that there is life even on this side of the Atlantic.
Even if I often grumble and say that the only thing that can cheer me up is a ticket to Italy, my home is still here. America for me is a guy who will pat you on the shoulder and won’t let you offend me. Yes, you won’t expect millions of red roses and a carpet from him, but you know that he won’t let you down and you can always rely on him. This post could be more fun, but it's honest. Without oohs, oohs and decorations. In general, long live the new US citizen!
The original column is published on Facebook page of Lidia Kalinina. Reprinted with permission of the author.