The journey into the unknown began...
So we got news that the process had started. My dad had finally found a sponsor to get him into the USA. An old aunt of his, who lived out in Lake Ellsinore, California, sponsored my dad and helped him all the ways she could once he got there. My dad got a job as a night attendant at a gas station and worked his way up quickly to become a manager. He bought a house in Quail Valley, and the plans and process for us to emigrate could then begin.
We began train trips to the American Embassy in Bucharest. Since we had never traveled before this was so wonderful. The planning began and we could not have been more ready. I was having a hard time in life and with school, becoming very detached and not willing to keep up with anything anymore. I started struggling emotionally and really needed a new start. The travels to Bucharest on the train gave me something to look forward to.
I wish you could actually experience the breathtaking beauty of the Carpathian Mountains. As you can see on the map, to travel from Cluj to Bucharest, we had to go through these mountains. The views were incredible.Then, of course, there were the night trips. The stars were so bright and the moon so close, it was like I could reach out and touch it.
My dreams were of a new life, a future so uncertain, yet, so mysterious. When I thought back to the future the government had chosen for me it was not speaking to me at all. They decided I would be a machinist. Not that there is anything wrong with that. But after watching my mom work in a factory all her life and never really getting ahead, just being able to make ends meet, it was not a something I wanted to do.
It was different back there and back then. You worked for your government, you did what you were expected to do. I knew that if we were able to get out, I wanted something different for myself. I had such respect and appreciation for my mom’s hard work to support her family. It was not so much the work or the factory. It was the communism and the slave labor they expected from the citizens.
I dozed off to the sound of the train wheels and the train whistle woke me to the announcement of our arrival.We had finally arrived in Bucharest! Now, Cluj is the second largest city in Romania, but Bucharest is the largest. The life and energy that breathes in a city is like a rush of adrenaline in my body. I love the life the city has!
We went to the Embassy. Now that certainly was an experience! I saw my first person of African descent. The children were so cute and exotic looking. The guards at the Embassy wore full marine uniforms. Wow! They were pretty hot looking! I was only in my early teens, but I noticed! I know I was only fourteen but I certainly recognized the distinguished uniforms and I was in an awe. It wasn’t just the people; it was the setting and special feel in there. It was different from the cold and regimented setting our government facilities had; you felt welcomed. The processes at the embassy took awhile. There were medical checks, background checks, paperwork and more paperwork. All of it was worth it in the end, though. I couldn’t wait! This time there was no fear of the trip, no second guessing.
The only thing that was hard for me was leaving my sister behind. She had left home at sixteen when I was eleven. It was the hardest thing in the world for me to lose her. She didn’t know it, but she was my best friend. I missed her so much. We shared a lot of the pain of our childhood, some of which I was not even aware of until later in life. She was my idol and my strength in so many ways. Leaving her behind was so painful.
I had a lot of anger against all of the issues that took her away from me; the secrets and the abuse she endured which I was not even aware of. My father was a very abusive man. I had such a hard time realizing and hearing just how much of a monster he was. I hated the fact that she had had to deal with and go through some of the things she said she had gone through. I so badly wished I could have been there and done something. We shared a pain and deep scars we would have to work through..But that will be a different story, for another day. I truly feel that siblings who lived through abuse together share a very special bond.