Who am I?………….
I’m a 54 year-old American named Mark, from New England. After the September 11th attacks on the United States, I did a little soul searching. I thought that that day about 3,000 people went to work with memories of the past weekend, and starting to formulate plans for the next. Among those were also quite a few I’m sure, that had dreams about what they would like to do when they retired. Of course none of their dreams or plans were realized. This made me reflect on how uncertain life can be and how sometimes it’s best to not put off plans.
At that time I had known Tanya, who is now my wife, for almost three years. We both felt that we would marry, but probably in the States and settle down there. I had already been to Russia several times. I had a really great job in the States and three grown sons, but I still made the decision to come to Russia, marry my wife and learn about the country and the people.
Having grown up during the Cold War, including working for a company involved in making fighter aircraft designed to counter the USSR, I had my own preconceived notions about Russia. But, I wanted to see things with my own eyes and not turn down an opportunity that might not have presented itself again. To most, the decision to leave sounded more like the product of a mid-life crisis, than a carefully thought out plan. I don’t really agree with that, although in terms of planning, after coming to the decision to come to Russia, there really wasn’t a lot.
The big move……………….
Just before Thanksgiving in 2001, I had made all of my arrangements, left instructions in the States as to financial matters and stored away the things I wanted to keep, but not bring with me. Figuring out what to bring was quite a chore by itself.
Having said my goodbyes to my friends and coworkers, I spent a week and a half traveling in three different states saying goodbye to my family members. The number of last minute details to take care of was huge, but I managed. The sense of looming adventure was thick and enticing, but the knowledge that I was leaving those I love behind and leaping into the unknown was also daunting. I mean, I was leaving all that I knew for the unknown and at that, an unemployed unknown.
My trip through three states took me to within a two and a half hour ride to JFK airport in New York. When I arrived at the airport, I saw just how much the world had changed post 9-11. The lines waiting to pass through security in order to enter the airport were nearly 100 yards long outside the doors of the airport.