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Posts Tagged ‘Dreams’

Barra de tumbar cocos

Barra de tumbar cocos. That is how they called Ludmila, because she was tallest one. She is at the left first on the line.

Life seemed so simple and peaceful back then; anyone who went through the war would say that. But everything in my life has had a short term from beginning to end. Now mama decided that was time for me to have a little education; she did not know I would read every magazine I put my hands on, studying  etiquette, fashion and good manners and reading every sign in the street. I did my own education and since my sister was pregnant again, I had to be good company to her. Her blue blood husband could teach me good manners, I thought, and in those days that was the most important thing for a girl: good breeding so she could marry well. The perfect mate for a European man was one with good manners; that was more desirable than beauty7!   (The world has changed indeed.). So off I went to finishing school!

Next thing I knew, they were putting me on a plane; I wasn’t afraid, just sad to leave my mama. I was worried about how father would treat her with me gone. When my papa drank, he was very scary and hurtful to all of us. I would just hid, and sometimes I would drag mama by the arm and take her to a closet or bedroom; anything not to hear his madness. Even so, I couldn’t help but wonder what my new family would be like.

Soon the excitement took over, to be away from home, and go to a peaceful house with Galina, Valery and Vera and the coming baby; I was to discover that this family was worse in some ways than the one I was coming from. So away I went to Porlamar, La Isla Margarita!  That ‘s what it said on the plane:I am about to fly and become airborne. Mamochka dear tried to calm me down, telling me about her first experience on a plane long ago in Russia when Fedor Ivanovich and Mama were just married and had already Gala and Tola. They all went to a little airport and rented a plane for an hour just to feel how it is to be up in the air!,
With that story, she put me in my seat and said “go with God Ludochka!”  How sweet my diminutive name sounded, I loved it). “ See you soon don’t worry, and be a good girl and as always let me be proud of you my dear Ludochka” But I wasn’t worried; we had lived in so many place, never really owning any property or putting roots down anywhere. With not having anything came no responsibilities either! We all lived for the day– making plans for the future was a luxury for the rich.
My  sisters big belly was almost ready, but she and her very tall husband Valery were there at the gate, waiting at the door on the landing strip next to the plane. Porlamar was the largest port of the island at that time, but everybody knew each other and there were no customs to go through or other formalities,  because they were all friends. Somehow that gave me a wrong idea of my own superiority, so that I never had any patience for police officers, soldiers or any authority figures.

Their house was like something in the movies, a very strange two story villa with a tower and beachfront! I just loved it, and soon my sister gave birth to the most beautiful little girl, so very gentle and sweet.  I would walk to school every day at “Nuestra Senora de la Consolacion”, where they gave me a uniform and put on shows and a little boina for my head. But first I had to
get in the turquoise water that it look so like a painting, and now I am touching it and walking on that white sand every chance I could get. After school I would do my homework and then maybe if Valery decided that I deserved it, I could go with them to a movie on Friday night, or maybe to a matinee Sunday to see the original Tarzan, Johnny Weissmuller, with his fabulous yell as he swung through the branches in the jungle.  Also the movie of  Fantasma or Superman, it was all I could do to behave all week so I could go to the movies.

But behaving perfectly never came easy to me. Valery was very critical of my posture, telling me to sit with my back straight and head up or I would get demerits. After 3 corrections, it was no movies for me!  When I ate dinner, if my little pinky was pointing it up, it was a no no it had to be under  showing only the fingers to are using the knife and fork ext. Then  he would hit it with his fork or knife or whatever he had in his hand; that kind of table manners was”low people’s manners, peasant-like.” And that slap on the wrist was nothing; the punishments grew more severe and more painful. He would pour rows of rock salt on the floor, put me on my knees and tell me that if I moved I was in big trouble. First it was five minutes, then when I could do that, he made it ten minutes– That really was uncomfortable to say the least!

However,  this Sunday I would not be punished! No,because the whole school was marching in the procession of the “Virgen de la Consolacion’  from the city Cathedral,  wearing  our best most elegant uniforms for the first time! That was  going to be great!

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My older sister Gala and me in 1947 in Italy, after escaping war-torn Russia on our way to Venezuela

Everything that was important in my life—my dreams and ambitions and hopes- were swept away by a wave of alcohol and drugs that took me from the height to the depths in a few lost years in Hollywood.  While reading my story, you will travel across those peaks and valleys, and perhaps experience the same spectrum of emotions, fears and doubts that filled those lost years. My story is a unique one, and I guarantee that it will quicken your pulse and make your heart beat a little faster as you read on.

Like my lost years, my childhood passed by without a prolonged period of innocence; from the moment our caravan fled Mother Russia through war-torn Europe, I was obliged to grow up fast and defend myself and my family like a woman- or a man.  I passed through this early period of my life just surviving, along with my family, on the slim hope of a better tomorrow. At times I came face to face with the profound depths of a hopeless reality, but in the midst of so much struggle, I could only choose to fight to survive, like everyone around me. And survive I did- to live, to dance, to cry and laugh, and sometimes to scream with pain and anger.

The central event and single fact of my childhood is that I was condemned by the communists and the advancing Red Army to leave my country, my family, my people, my homeland, my very culture- -my Mother Russia. I ventured forth into an unknown world, with a family of gypsies traveling in a horsedrawn caravan, to be swept away to a strange and entirely different New World. In that new reality, dreaming was the only cure for the maladies of the world. In my new life in Isla Margarita off the coast of South America, I could ride my swing higher, higher and higher, to touch the blue sky, then come back to earth to feel the warm, creamy sand slipping through my toes. While the wind whispered through the palm trees, the tropical breeze caressed my young and innocent body.  I told myself over and over again the words I had learned and felt from the glamour magazines:  I am beautiful,  I am strong,  I am a star shining bright like that one overhead.  Some day, when I grow up,  I will see all of the world and everything in it.

What happened? When did I fall off my swing? It seems like I woke up forty years later with the constant refrain pounding in my head:  My head is spinning, the booze was winning.

But I will live to swing again and reach up to the clear blue skies, to be a shining star again, and feel the kiss of warm lips instead of the chill of a cold, empty glass.

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