Thursday, June 27, 2013

Home is where the heart is

    Home. Home is where the heart is, right? My home, where is it? 
    I remember working in the field of a collective farm, where our senior class was sent for the summer. After a few hours of weeding, walking bent over the line of plants, I was ready for a break. The ground was warm, it soothed the pain in my back, but what made me forget all the aches, were the endless sky and the smell of the drying grass. The sharp, heady scent was permeating everything, I was lost, floating into the waiting blue infinity over my head. The feeling of belonging was so strong, I was in love with this land, that gave me birth, with the earth that sustained me.
     We walked for so long that I stopped believing that we'll finally get there. It was the night of June 22nd, the day when the Nazi Germany invaded Russia. We decided to walk ten miles to the next village, to the obelisk for the unknown soldiers. The night was cool and wet, my shoulders hurt deeply from the weight of a backpack, but I forgot all about it when we arrived. 
     It was a simple monument in the middle of the village square, with the fire that always burned there. It took us a few minutes to calm down after the hike and get into the proper mood. The soldiers buried there fought against the overwhelming odds, some having no rifles or any other means to defend themselves and their position. That's how it was then: the Soviet Army was ill equipped for that war. A soldier who didn't get a rifle waited for his comrade to fall, to pick up his weapon. I thought of the young men, who were, probably, about my age, just graduated from the High School. What was it like, to know that you won't get to live and love and grow? We stood, speechless, breathing in the night and the past. Someone has cut the grass recently, and the intoxicating smell of it hung in the air.
     Years later, and thousands of miles away from Russia, in the downtown New York, I stopped dead in the milling throng off people. Amid the smells of the burning pretzels and the car fumes, some powerful and poignant memory called to me. The smell of the cut grass was in the air, and I was back in the Russian county-side, thinking of the fallen heroes and of my home. Yet now, my home, the promise of a better future and freedom, all of that was in the U.S. Home is where the heart is, right? Now, the question stands: is my heart big enough to embrace not only Russia, but also America, the place that gave me the real chance at life? Can I carry that gift and my memories to the others? 

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