Tanya, Tanechka, my best friend through the school years in Russia, - and after - wrote to me,
finally!We first met waiting in a line as first graders, dressed in our little uniforms with white aprons and huge bows in our hair. Tanya, of course, already had a Russian beautiful, long, blond braid. My bow sat, crazily leaning to one side in the short hair on my head.
She lived with her parents, sister and a grandmother less than five minutes' walk away from our apartment. I loved going to her house and watch the way her family interacted with each other. I never put it in words even for myself then, but my own family suffered abuse from my mother. For one reason or another, she never kept her temper or hands to herself, and none of us knew, what to do about it.
One time, after a particularly difficult morning at home, I came to pick Tanya up to go to school together. I stood in her living room, watching her and her sister talk and laugh with their parents, working together to start the day. Somehow, I just began to sob uncontrollably, seeing all that love and warmth, absent in my own home. They were tactful enough and didn't question me about it. On the other hand, it was, probably, the belief which people had then, that they didn't have a right to interfere into other families' lives.
Tanya and I just clicked, as friends. We had only our age, being in the same class and love for literature in common, since ethnically we were so different. At that time (I know, it's still true in Russia) there was a lot of prejudice against the Jews. Even though a lot of the beloved actors, doctors, scientists and composers were Jewish, the Russian majority despised my people.
We often went for walks in the woods in our area. The rich beauty of different seasons: the nostalgia of autumn, the impossible beauty of winter, the exuberance of spring and the gentle summers; they are still fresh in my memory. I believe that, a few minutes after I took this wintery picture of Tanya, I turned around and saw a throng of horsed riders, making their way through the snow! I have that photo somewhere too, but couldn't find it yet.
I said, I idealised Tanya's family, but many years later, when I came to Moscow and met my friend there, she told me that, her family was troubled also.
I hope, we can keep in touch better than before. Tanya sent me her e-mail address, and I already wrote back to her, including my family's pictures. It's a little (alright, - a lot!) embarrassing to let Tanya see, how fat I became. I hope, she'll remember how I always struggled with my weight. But I can't hide my reality from her if I want to build a real relationship, right?
Wish me luck and say a prayer for my friend and me, will you?