July 20, 2010
Thirty-two years ago today, my parents and I made the trip from Italy to New York. My mom and I had been released from prison, that is, the Soviet Union, three months earlier.
We had landed in Italy in April, on my first birthday, and my father was waiting for us, having come from New York where he had been for the last 9 months. They had not seen each other for over a year and I had never met my father.
My mother was carrying me as we got off the plane. After greeting each other my father asked if I could walk. Apparently I could. My mom set me down and off I scurried.
At the same time, in Haifa, Israel, lived an almost-3-year-old boy with a funny bowl haircut who would eventually be nicknamed the Israeli Commando (or, IC). In two years, his parents would move him and his new brother to America, to Queens. He’d go to college and meet a guy named Frank, who had a friend named Mike, who was my friend. We’d meet one summer night in a bar in the East Village. We’d become friends and end up living in the same building. And then, years and years later, we’d pretty suddenly fall for each other, date, marry and have a baby girl named Sadie.
She’s 5+ months right now and every day is a new adventure. Today she made this sound. Now she’s able to do this. I think about my parents, separated for the first year of my life and can’t imagine IC without Sadie. Even more, I can’t imagine the lack of communication between my parents for that year. My mom didn’t have a telephone, and letters and packages took forever to reach her. In a world with overnight delivery, email, texting, cell phones, flip videos, ichatting and good old fashioned regular telephones, this seems incomprehensible. My father had sent baby clothes during his own stay in Italy. My mom wrote back that they fit well…on my doll. My father didn’t know whether I could walk, a fairly significant milestone. IC was sad to miss the first time Sadie made a new sound: luh. My parents did what they had to do to get out. I wonder if my child, born and raised in freedom, will ever understand that. I hope she will feel lucky. I plan to remind her that she is, every July 20th, and many other days in between too.
Previous July 20th posts: