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  • Annamaria Nemeth

A new beginning.

Before leaving for our new life, we started sharing and giving away our belongings. This was hard for me, not because of the material possessions, but because this was my life I was giving away parts of. We never had had anything in abundance. We had our basic needs met with very few extras. Our closets were never overflowing with clothes that we never bothered to wear. We had a few outfits and we wore them over and over again.

 

Any clothing we did get was of good quality and it was meant to last until we grew out of it. I had this red polka-dotted dress that I wore everywhere. When it no longer fit, it was the greatest disappointment to me. (How I became such a shoe lover is beyond me. I do recall, however, that even when I was a child, the smell of a nice pair of new leather shoes was the best!)

 

As I was sorting through things I had to leave behind, the memories started flooding over me. There were many good times, but they were sometimes overshadowed by the hardships. However, at this point all I could think about were the good times. I had grown up in a special place and had known the best of both worlds. I loved the outdoors as well as the city.

 

Each day as soon as I could, I would be outside: in the park, in the woods, hiking, swimming, or visiting the agricultural farms around. I loved visiting the local farms where they would let me milk the cows and drink plenty of fresh milk.

As a family we would often go to Faget Park. This was a park where we would picnic, hike, and play. It was such fun to experience this place. I guess the outdoors were in my blood all my life.

 

The Carpathian mountains were a refuge for longer backpacking and camping adventures. I recall exploring abandoned mines, which to me was thrilling. Backpacking and hiking were not so trendy at this point in time. The places were quiet and majestic. I was able to explore to my heart's content. We would always set up camp near a stream to keep the food submerged and cold. This served a dual purpose: it kept the animals away and it kept the food cold and fresh.

 

I recall coming across a bear once; I was sure he could have cared less if I were around. He looked down at me and went back to whatever he was doing. My heart was racing with excitement and fear. As I moved on to other adventures on the mountain, I kept hoping to come across other creatures but I didn't.

 

My sister and I had many mischievous moments too. We would break into the agricultural  places and the corn fields to bring home  goodies: corn, fruit, any vegetables we could get our hands on. There were many times that we almost got caught, but we always got away. I sometimes feel that I loved the adrenaline rush almost as much as what I actually accomplished, even though in some cases I was doing dangerous things out of necessity not just for a thrill. Of course, the “necessity” part goes back to the situation with government surplus and citizens having rations which I have discussed before..One thing I knew for sure, I will miss my sister.

 

I loved being with my sister, even though there was an age difference. I felt so important when I was able to hang out with her. We spent all of our growing up time in the same room. The way the government allocated living quarters was by the size of the family. In our family there were four of us so we had an apartment that had one bedroom. Since the living room was considered another room, it was where my parents slept. I recently found out from my sister that after my parents and I left she was able to take over our apartment for a short while until they relocated her into a studio apartment. The smaller apartment made sense because at the time she was actually by herself.

 

More memories of my childhood were flooding over me.  Outdoors was my happy place, always. There was the time when we were playing kickball and the ball ended up in the street. Without thinking I ran out to get the ball and a car came out of nowhere and hit me. I flew up in the air but luckily I landed without serious injury.

 

I recall the fear in the driver’s eyes as he got out to check on me as I sprung up and tried to go back to playing. He kept insisting that he needed to check on me and make sure I was ok, but I ran off and said I was just fine. He just stood there and watched me for awhile. Looking back now, of course I understand his concern but I really was fine. To make things even more interesting, he was in the military, though he was very kind and caring.

 

I spent a whole summer with a family in the country on a farm year. What a wonderful time I had. It was a very rustic way of living. There was no inside plumbing, we used an outhouse, and transportation was with a horse and buggy. Often we would take day trips into town to pick up necessities the farm did not provide. Along the way we would visit other farmers and they would trade goods, catch up on local news, as well as news about friends and family. I clearly recall the warm feeling I had visiting with them.

 

There are lots of good memories about that summer. I think with amusement of the pig who always felt the need to chase me while I was trying to get to the outhouse. Unfortunately, I had to walk through the pig pen to get to the outhouse. The pig had to be chased off every time with a broom; he just had it in for me!

 

As I was getting ready to leave for New York, I sat with a smile thinking of those times and I knew I would miss all my adventures. Crazy and good times. But it was my life; it was my home. In my heart I knew that whatever life brought to me it would all be all right. I always felt a beautiful warm spirit with me. God was not something anyone taught me about, He just was.

 

The room I had for fifteen years held so many memories. I really wondered about my new life and what it would bring. There was no turning back. The goodbyes had been said, the belongings given away. It was time to go. All I had left were the memories.We were stripped of our citizenship. Anything of value we had to leave behind and what we tried to take with us was confiscated at the airport in customs. We were leaving behind a contemptuous government, with no regard for human rights,  no regard for its citizens’ lives. And, with living conditions worsening, I was ready for whatever life was bringing simply because I knew that it couldn’t be any worse than what it was already.

 

I had never flown before; it was totally amazing. We flew from Bucharest to Vienna with a little time to kill. I was so in awe of everything around me at the airport. I had never seen such beauty. Now, on to New York and then LA. Here we come, new world...


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