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Then:

When I boarded the same Airline Aeroflot for the very first plane ride in my life 31 years ago, I shivered from excitement. The stewardesses were pleasant and tiny compared to all of the Russian women I have ever seen. We were given pillows and blankets and when the food arrived I was in complete and total awe. In front of me was a tray full of all kinds of miniature sandwiches and cucumbers. Cucumbers at the beginning of March? I couldn't contain my excitement. I remember turning to my mom whose eyes were swollen from tears running down her face, and announcing that this was the best meal I've ever had. I remember my dad winking at me and telling me that this was just the beginning. My parents looked distraught; they left their country in search for a better life for their children leaving their family and friends behind. As a twelve year old I couldn't completely grasp the magnitude of this event, but looking at both of their faces I knew that this was the biggest decision of their lives.

Now:

aeroflotAs we began to board the plane, I was swept with the same eerie feeling of the unknown.....I really didn't know what to expect; what feelings, emotions and experiences would present themselves? And how would I react?

I told myself to stay alert and pay attention to every little detail. Before I reached my seat I noticed that the "tiny" pleasant stewardesses, that seemed to be forever embedded in my memory were not so tiny or pleasant after all.

When the food arrived I secretly hoped I would be just as impressed and excited, but whom was I kidding? After 31 years in the US it was hard to surprise me with anything, especially airplane food.

I smiled remembering my first experience with a tea bag.

Then:

Teabag....never seeing such an invention before; I automatically ripped the bag and emptied the tealeaves into my cup. Imagine my embarrassment when I saw the American gentlemen across the aisle dipping the bag into his teacup and slowly sipping his tea. After acknowledging my ignorance I became angry. It was evident; even such an insignificant object as a teabag was for the outside world, and Russian people were robbed of the simplest luxuries in life. I remember closing my eyes and saying a prayer for everyone that we left behind.

Now

I heard everyone around me clapping, the airplane was skidding down the runway, and my heart was pounding faster and faster. The captain welcomed everyone to Moscow.

To be continued.



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