Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Zhenia comes home

10th July

For all of you that know (or might not),
Zhenia and her family emmigrated to the United States in 1989. This would be her first trip back in 17 years….

I had many fears coming to back to my old apartment building and the playground where my sister and I spent many afternoons giggling and amusing ourselves. It had been so many years since I walked down Zakrevskoya Ulitsa or had caught the tram that zipped down this street. I feared that my childhood, safe in the confines of my memory, sheltered me and also made me a bit naïve to all that might have changed since I left. But as I jumped off the bus, I began to remember everything.

Zhenia walking down Zakrevskoya Ulitsa midst the blooming lime-trees and horse chestnut.
The tram still works but will soon become obsolete and replaced by the tram-bus. It is as if the tram was waiting for my arrival!
The old brown soviet-type building is a food market that has been slightly changed on the inside. Sasha, do you remember how we took that baguette of bread without paying and mama made us go back and apologize?
Ice cream in a cup with Little Mermaid wrapper. What more can a girl ask for?

The road to my apartment building was paved with these great big cement blocks, too big for a 7 year old to have to tackle on her own. I used to hold my mothers hand and jump from block to block. It felt so good to hop from block to block by myself.
I grew up on the 8th floor, 8th window from the right in apartment 93. In the main lobby downstairs there are still two elevators (one big on the left and one small on the right) which rattle and clank whilst in mid-air.
The stadium can still be viewed from the balcony of the building.
“Zhenia’s coming home tour” would naturally end in this spot, my old playground. It isn’t much by the look of it but does hold many fond and innocent memories for me. I couldn’t hold back the tears.

Sasha, do you remember the jump rope we would tie around the cement columns and compete for the fanciest jumping combination?


Jerry said...

Dear Zhenia!

I read your blog with great interest and loved it. It must have been such a complicated experience to revisit and remember so many things about your childhood.

Kyle said...

Hey there,
Good to connect with you again and nice to hear about your travels to the Ukraine and beyond! I spent last weekend in Prague and in Southern Bohemia, I agree, the sights there are wonderful. I'll be going back in a couple of weeks, before I visit Vienna. Will be in Berlin all of next week. The picture of us in Dresden brings back great memories, which I was reminiscing about as I passed by there on the way to the Czceh Republic :)

Anonymous said...

Z, It's so nice to see where you grew up. I love the journal entries, beautiful. They brighten my day!


Wow, guys! It is incredibly mind turning that you actually have been to all of those places, but what I really was waiting for was for you to get to Ukraine!
AAAH MOZALAND!! I can't wait to see what T - Tom thinks of it and what Zhenia's impression is after all these years! 17 years..that's like a whole me, almost! Anyways, I really enjoy reading the posts and am a bit..wait.. a lot jealous that you are walking the streets of my favorite city. I can't wait to go back there again! I love you guys and all the best!
Serge, out!

Anonymous said...

I remember...I remember...I remember it all. I remember the ice cream (are there still trucks around selling it...two flavors of course, chocolate-for you, vanilla--for me); I remember the rezeenka we used to play behind that building (and how disappointed we were that those round chair pegs couldn't be a little bit taller and a little bit skinnier); I remember that street with the chestnut trees, I miss those, cause "In America, there are no chestnut trees"; I remember the kvas--can't get it like that over here, the taste just ain't the same; I remember that store, I remember the loaf, I was so angry that day; do they still sell those flakes, the sweet ones, the ones we would beg mama to get us; I remember the tramvai, riding it to the pool, riding it all around by ourselves... How we felt so mature and proud riding by ourselves. Did you get to cross the field between our house and Leza's, past the swingset? Did you see that huge (or so it seemed) architectural statue-form in front of the store that we used to climb in and out of?
Ok, I'm getting carried away. I'll talk to you soon about all this, else I'll stay on memory lane for a while. Give my love and many kisses to Volodia, Alyona, and the rest of the bunch for me. Ciao,
The Sun Worshiper

nalz said...

wow. reading this posting gave me goosebumps. i can only imagine how intense it must have been to see all those foreign but yet familiar things... im glad you went back home momma :-)

Odysseus and Co. said...

sasha, i was there for the both of us. you always remembered more than me and that horrible monument type thing still stands by the store, though i can't recall what in the world it is or how i could've possible climbed it. the ice cream is still there but now they officially call it "sovetskoye morozhino" (Soviet ice cream because it is in the cup and that was all we had) and there are now a variety of flavours. i found myself sitting there on the stone pegs in the playground, though i remember them being a cement color, and drifting deeper and deeper. i had not drunk kvas for 17 years. seriously, all that other junk we drank for years, trying to recall how a glass would satisfy on the hottest days, was rubbish. i can't stop myself. i drink a hilarious amount each day.

Anonymous said...


You are making reminisce about my childhood. Oh so similar. Enjoying your blog as always.


Anonymous said...

Dear Zhenia!

This is a voice from your Kyiv past. When i went to Kyiv for the first time after i have immigrated to Israel, i had the same feeling. I stayed at Volodya's and Alyona's, and all of my memories flooded me. I went to see my old appartment, and along the way i remmembered... I saw my old school, and the boulevard leading to my house. I saw the stadium next to it, and the small playground with the "kacheli" there.
I tried to find my mom's old theatre, where we all saw "skazka o care saltane", and i played that small role there, but i couldnt. Looking back on it all now, and reading what you wrote, i realize that i really want to go back there again! I want to go with my father, i want him to show me all the places i couldn't find on my own. I want him to show me where your appartment is (i dont remmember it on the outside, but i do remmber that you had some animals painted on the wall in your room and that it was really far away from our appartment), where is our "ostrov", i want him to show me Kyiv as he remmembers it.
Thanks for reminding me that.
If you havent guessed yet, this is Alina.