What a childhood memory for any of us to experience on our own, to visit those spots in our mind and heart that we very rarely blow the dust off and allow ourselves that dream a second time. But to watch someone do some time traveling in their own childhood is an amazing sight. Yesterday, Sergei, Svetlana, Irina and I were out living Belarus’ national holiday celebrating visiting the grave’s of the dead. Something I must say is it’s pretty cool after experiencing it, giving families an opportunity to visit the dead as a group. In some cases it’s seemed to be a celebration, in other cases it was a very somber setting. In either case, flowers were the adorning jewelry decorating those entering the cemeteries, while using those flowers to enhance the site bringing a pleasant fragrance and color for those who have crossed over, it reminded me of a tradition that I learned from a Jewish friend of mine, I leave a rock on the grave letting the next person know I took the effort to spend some time and said a prayer.
While traveling the many different roads going from cemetery to cemetery, Irina’s eyes lite up like a child seeing Santa Clause in line at a Macy’s Store at Christmas. (If you’re not careful you’ll shoot your eye out.) She could hardly believe her eyes we were going down a dirt road where she had grown up as a child and had not been back. As we turned the corner of where they lived I could hear in both Sergei’s and Irina’s voices the heart-pounding excitement of years gone past. Still not understanding Russian very well I could surely read the language of love in their eyes, gestures, and body gyrations. It was a point here, then a grab of the shirt there and a gasp pointing to neighbors houses, trees climbed, areas where life was lived and now being remembered.
Then came the glorious topping on the cake turning right looking down the dirt road just on the left midway past the existing domiciles lays a treasure more dear to my loved ones than gold its self. The radiant brilliant glow on their faces was almost indescribable had I not at some point in my life experienced the same excitement in my own life and heart. Ah for the love of God where had 37 years of life passed through their hour glass without them noticing the sand passing through their hands.
Unlike most people I know, they walked up to the front door knocked on it, introduced themselves to the owner, who was grossly involved with a game of cards with a neighbor gladly invited them in to get a tour of a lifetime. The Lion at the door said “Why didn’t you say so come on in” with a wave of a hand (we) that included me into the land of OZ where childhood dreams were made. I won’t share many of the insides of the house, those are the members who lived a lifetime of history there and for them, I will let it lay.
Three pictures I will share are of Irina standing in her once called bedroom and pictures of Sergei and Irina drinking from the nectar of the god’s the water from their sink which happened to be a well in front of their house. There are these drinking wells all along every street, the water is cold, pure and refreshing I know I have tasted much water on our walks.
Irina shared with me that the wallpaper has not been changed, it is the original paper they had. As we said our goodbyes to the homeowner you could tell we had made his day, you see he is an aged gentleman like most of us looking for some company and conversation. We were there a good hour or two not sure how long time seemed to stand still but I know it didn’t because when I took my shoe off sand fell out of it.
Farewell, my long lost friend, it was a pleasure to see you again and to you my new found homeowner friend it’s not farewell it was a pleasure.
As the car was filled with giddiness and laughter, I assumed our day was coming to a close but little did I know nor did anyone else suspect the journey we were about to embark on would take place as we turned left at the end of the block, there is was with all its grandeur, long held past knowledge the school they had attended. Worn out with the grace of an aged educator we slowly drove past as fingers were pointing to the rooms they had received their education in. I had no idea we were going to stop but we did. The school has long been since closed so the doors were locked but we decided to wander around the building seeing if we could look into any of classroom windows. As we were on the back side of the building, Irina had her face planted up against a window pane trying to reach into her past, she was startled into reality by a familiar face only he was on the inside looking out at her. They both jumped with joy and excitement, they were former classmates, come to find out he is the curator of the building. She ran to the side of the of the school they embraced and were like speed freaks talking a mile a minute. We got to tour the building and I had the opportunity to take millions of pictures, listen to childhood dreams, games, stories, look inside a classroom and attempt to feel the atmosphere of what it was once like to sit in attendance during the Russian regime.
Photographs and Memories
Memories that come at night
Take me to another time
Back to a happier day