Saturday, December 1, 2018

#22 ~ Fall 1975 ~ Ostia Lido

Our life in Ostia was full of discoveries. We saw happiness and despair, tragedy and triumph, death and birth. We were surrounded with families with their own, unique stories. And I wish I kept a journal back then to document it all. It would make a fascinating book.
During the warm days, we would go to the beach and enjoy the sunshine, warm sand, beautiful blue water. We studied English, dreamed about our lives in the USA or Canada, anywhere in the Free World.
We were able to move to a 3 bedroom apartment. We stayed in one of the bedrooms and rented out the other two. This way we could afford to live there and have money for food and transportation. We all shared kitchen and a bathroom. A little tight, but livable.
In October warm weather turned into the cold, bitter, windy and very unpleasant. No wonder most of the apartments were empty. All Italians went back to the City. We lived on the top floor and one night the wind blew out large glass of the sliding door. We had nothing to repair it with. I hung blankets to shield from the wind and rain, but it was not very helpful. We all slept fully dressed, and it was still very cold. It took several weeks until the landlord sent  a repair man to fix the broken window. In a meantime, I found out that I was pregnant. We were very happy, but not knowing where we are going to be in a week, a month, a year added stress and anxiety, constant worry and nervous tension to our already strained lives. But the new life inside of me made me smile, made me more determined to succeed.
One Sunday morning, one of our neighbors invited us to come to the Vatican. Felix stayed home with Masha and I went with the group. Vatican is a magical place. I read in our guide book that Vatican City is home to some of the most famous art in the world. I did know what to expect. When we arrived to the St. Peter's Square, there were thousands of people standing and looking up. They explained to me that the Pope is going to appear and wave to the crowd from the window on the top floor. Well, I did not see the Pope, because I fainted... Maybe it was too hot, or too many people, or too much excitement, or maybe the fact that I was pregnant, or most likely all of the above. When I came to, I was carried on the stretchers by two funny looking men. They were Swiss  Guards in their traditional uniforms. I got so scared, frightened and panicky. They tried to comfort me, but I just wanted to get away and I did... That was my first encounter with the Vatican City. Just want to ensure that my next visit (years later) was much happier and very exciting.
St. Peter's Square ~ Vatican City

As I mentioned before, every day we were meeting so many different people with their own special stories, but one thing united us all: we all had to flee the country where we were born, face the unknown, and start our lives anew. We also shared new information from the books that were forbidden in the Soviet Union. One of the authors was  Alexander Solzhenitsyn. His novels tell about horrifying experiences in prison and war: "One Day of the Life of Ivan Denisovich", "The First Circle", "Cancer Ward". They describe the prison scenes, hospitals, atrocities by Soviet Government, corruption and dishonesty. The most dramatizing book for me was "The Gulag Archipelag" about the  the prison camps. Horror! Death! Bereavement!
Reading those books just confirmed that we made the right decision.

1 comment:

  1. Marina, You have given us another look at a life that most of us in America do not know. My grandparents immigrated from Denmark in the 1880's so my parents were born here as was I. Thank you so much for sharing this chapter of your life.