Wednesday, March 28, 2012

#8 ~ 1971 ~ Glimpse into adulthood

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Previous Post:1970-1971 ~ Now What?

Right after the New Year we had a guest coach from Kiev, Elena Vasilievna. She was fabulous! We trained 6-7 hours at a time and still it was not enough. She was strict, fare, knowledgeable and made us laugh at our own mistakes. I fell in love with her style of teaching. Elena asked me what were my plans for next year. And I said that I am going back to Leningrad to try again. She looked into my eyes and said:” Why? You definitely have talent to be a fantastic coach. If you change your mind, come and apply to the Kiev State University of Physical Culture. That's were I am teaching." I was very touched, thankful and said that I will think about it.
Elena Biruk, one of the best coaches in the World

My very first coach, Ida got married and moved to Kiev when I was 7 years old. (That's one of the ways to move from one city to another...) I knew that she had a son, Felix. Why is this important?
Well, at the end of January he called me and asked if I could assist him in finding Ida's former students. I agreed to meet him and we spent a long day together tracking down Ida's students. We talked about his days in the Army, my failed attempt to get into College, history, art, movies, books. I was surprised how easy it was talking to him, how smart he was and how different he was from the other boys I dated. He walked me home (I insisted on it!), we said goodbyes not realizing that this was THE beginning of the rest of our lives together.
February 23 was a big celebration in the former Soviet Union: Day of Soviet Army. Big military parades in all the big cities, music, celebration. I was sending cards to all my friends (boys), not boyfriends and decided to send one to Felix. After all, he served in the Army.
March 8 is another big Holiday - International Women’s Day. No parades, no fireworks, but men customary gave flowers and presents to women. That night my Mom said that there is someone on the phone for me. It was Felix! He congratulated me with March 8th and invited me to come and visit him in Kiev. I felt very special! After all he was so much older and seemed so grown up and sophisticated and refined!

Felix when we first met
In a few weeks, without telling my Mom, I got on the train and went to Kiev. Felix showed me this beautiful city, we talked and walked the streets of the city, and he was a perfect host. At that time he lived with his mother and her former husband in the 2-room ( not 2 bedroom) apartment. They shared kitchen and bathroom. What a life!
The weekend passed very fast. I got home all giddy, happy and lightheaded. I had to make a decision what to do next. I could listen to people's advice, but decision had to be mine: what to do? Being adult is hard. You have to make your decisions that will impact the rest of your life!
After long and extensive contemplating, I decided to go to Kiev and become a COACH. Did the fact that Felix lived there have anything to do with it? Probably... But thinking how much I enjoyed teaching dance in school, how I loved gymnastics, and the fact that I will be coached by the country’s best also helped me to make up my mind.
So in June I went to Kiev to apply to the Kiev State University of Physical Culture.

Next: 1976 - Coming to America 

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