15 years ago I was in college at Utah State University. I got a flyer in the mail that was for teaching English for a semester. You could choose Russia or China but in Russia you would get to live with a host family. I called that day for more information.
The lady I talked to had taught in Russia and sold me instantly. I had only a few weeks to make an audition tape showing me teaching kids and to get the application in. I busted my ass and did it. I was accepted into the program and left only 7 weeks later. To Ufa, Russia which is in a remote area near Siberia. I was going to spend the winter semester there. I always have had that adventurous, hippy spirit. It is WHO I am.
I lived with a family that truly became my family away from home. I kept in touch with my parent’s via old school calling cards because this was pre cell phone days. I met a girl there who was a teacher too and we bonded instantly and are still in touch.
This family I lived with had a 9 year old girl and we became the best of friends. We were silly and had fun non-stop. Leaving her I was bawling and so was she. The whole family was. During those roughly six months we because intensely close although the parents didn’t speak much English and I didn’t speak any Russian. I learned there are a lot more universal languages out there than words. Smiles, laughter, hugs, tears and translating dictionaries!
I kept in touch for about 4-5 years through good old fashion letter writing and package sending. I would send her the Harry Potter books when they were released here because we would get them MONTHS before they would.
And then we lost touch. I still thought of this little girl all the time. I wondered about her but life kept going and going and going …
And then nearly ten years since our last contact, I saw her face pop up as a suggested friend on Facebook. There was NO way Facebook should have known this. Zero mutual friends, no phone numbers, no emails and zero mention of Russia on my page. This is why Facebook is creepy as fuck BUT crazy amazing as well. I added her and messaged immediately. I said is this really YOU!?! She replied YES and so began the communication. She was grown up and getting a Master’s Degree in St. Petersburg. Life really did keep going.
I remember calling my person that night and blabbering on for hours about this and digging out my old photo albums to show the pictures and journals I had kept. He listened intently and it was a special moment to share, far more than he would ever realize.
A few months later she mentioned she would be stateside for the summer working and would like to come to Chicago after. I said YES! WOW! Would we really meet again after 15 years!!!!!
Yesterday we did. Downtown Chicago we met at the Bean and I hugged the shit out of her. I was SO excited. She is the exact same beautiful spirit I knew just in a grown woman’s body. The same gorgeous red hair and just as special as I remembered. It was amazing to spend the day, evening and night. Today she met my crazy boys. I can’t believe Ty was about her age when I first met her. The circle of life.
This time when we said good-bye, I knew it was a see you later. I’ll see her again in some corner of the world.
My world is small. My people are scattered throughout the globe.
But love knows no distance and time.