True Friends Stay Through Hardship

I didn’t plan to immigrate. All I could think of was Russia. Exile is a disconnection with your roots and people. Exile is the loss of identity. I didn’t know why I was here, and who I was before, was lost. My plans for 1996 were grand, but instead I landed in a Louisiana swamp, face down.

Unlike the rich Jews captured by the Assyrians of antiquity, I do not enjoy my exile – I am poor. I am not sure the ancient Jews even had visa problems in Assyria, but I did, and I felt it with my skin every day. I couldn’t even get a job at a local McDonald’s. My visa didn’t allow me to flip hamburgers. All I was allowed to do is pick up pecans in my brother-in-law’s backyard, waiting to be invited back to Russia.

One day, the phone finally rings. And it rings for me after six months of silence. New York! That is the call I waited for! I can hardly wait for my brother-in-law to hand me the phone. Jane, who knew about my contacts with Naina Yeltzina, wants me to give her the First Lady’s home phone number.

“Oh, Lydia, I miss you so much! We have so much planned for you. Where have you been, my friend?” I’ve heard that when one door closes another door opens, and felt elated.

“Oh, Jane! I am so happy you called. Of course, I have Naina’s number. Wait a minute.”

John all of a sudden demands the phone. “John, I am talking!” I whisper, closing the microphone with my other hand, “Everything is great! I am back!”

“Give me the darn phone!” I never heard John talk like that.

“Jane?! This is John, Lydia’s brother-in-law. No, we haven’t met. But I heard lots about you from Lydia. How sweet of you to remember Lydia. Oh, of course, of course, she is the greatest! But, somehow, I didn’t hear you calling to check on her. Ah, the circumstances! How different are they now? Ah, you have billions of dollars. Oh, you want to offer it to the Russian government. Oh, you want Lydia’s contact for the Russian President’s wife? Hmm, so you need Lydia’s name under this offer to the Russian government?”

My heart jump-started, telling me I’m back in the game. Then my heart sinks into my intestines and I forget to breathe, hearing with my own two ears how John ruins my life right in front of me!……………………………………………..


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