The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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This is another one of my mom's memories. Here she reminisced about what her life was like when she made it to America and started trying to make the American Dream happen for herself and her family.

Weekdays in Helen’s new home in America were always the hardest. Adjusting to a new life in America meant having the money to live a life in America. Helen would wake up with the sun and quietly tiptoe to the kitchen to cook dinner for her family and make her husband and son lunch for the day. These hours of the day were the most peaceful–she would stand in the silence of the kitchen in her long fuzzy robe and slippers, with her golden-blonde bob bouncing with each step she took sipping her cup of coffee. The peace lasted only until her husband's 7 am work alarm. By 7:30 he was hovering over the kitchen table in his scuffed up construction site clothing waiting for his lunch. With this alarm, also woke up her son who she had to dress and drop off at school before driving 45 minutes to a cleaning job a family friend set her up with. 

While she drove in her 1995 Toyota she listened to the news and talk shows on the radio, hoping to learn some English. She spent every morning this way: driving through traffic, attentively listening to the words coming out muffled through the old car’s speakers, repeating phrases she could catch to get rid of the accent she hated so much. She knew that this “American Dream” she wanted so bad wouldn’t be easy to achieve, but she craved it more than anything else in the world. So, after work, she would pick up her husband to go to night school. Ran by a fellow Russian in her own home, Helen and her husband would spend every weeknight here. For three hours they would sit trying to learn the language they so desperately needed to more quickly move on to better jobs and a better future for their family. 

They came home to their son tucked away in bed by his uncle who would watch him after school. Unable to help herself, Helen would carefully sit on her son’s bed and kiss his forehead. “Goodnight” she would whisper as her son would struggle to open his eyes in response. His eyes were bright green, like his fathers, and even through squinting they would pierce through the darkness filling the room. “I didn’t see you all day, I miss you.” He would mutter longingly. “I know honey, but you know we have to work” she would say back, “We love you so much. Goodnight.” The nights would end in the same way every day, tearing up Helen’s heart, but she knew this is what needed to be done. She would fall asleep dreaming of their futures, ready for the next day to begin.

A Day In The Life

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2002
Philadelphia, PA

This is another one of my mom's memories. Here she reminisced about what her life was like when she made it to America and started trying to make the American Dream happen for herself and her family.

Decade: 2000s
Rating:
Recorded by Anna Kapkanova on December 7, 2020
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