Arkadya Muzyka for New Pathway – Ukrainian News.
I am home.
How can a place you’ve never been to feel like home as soon as you arrive? Stepping off that plane placed me in what felt like the most natural space ever. Walking through Kyiv, on the cobblestone roads, past the beautiful churches, the live music, the busyness of it all.
This feels like home.
The smells of delicious foods flood the streets. The foods my babusia would make for us. The foods I used to be embarrassed to bring to school in fear of hearing “what is that’’ being sneered at me.
This comfort is home.
Sitting on a patio in Lviv, with the most delicious borsch, everyone around me is speaking the language I proudly know. No one is correcting my words, my pronunciation. No one is comparing it to Russian, Polish or whatever other Eastern European country they can come up with. No one is asking why I don’t speak with an accent. I am able to introduce myself to others the way my mother named me. There is no Anglicized version of me that adapts to the majority. My name is said as it was intended to be, the “R” rolling off of everyone’s tongue with ease.
This sounds like home.
Entering Kolomyia, the tiny village where my didus grew up, everything felt so familiar, yet, never have I been there before. It looks as if it was taken out of one of the Ukrainian children’s books I read as a child. The tiny, single floored, plastered houses have gorgeous gardens blossoming with life which meet the makeshift fence made up of large sticks standing tall along the dirt road. I walk into this picture book to meet my family for the first time as though I’ve known them forever with hugs and kisses being spread to everyone in the room.
This looks like home.
My family in Ukraine isn’t wealthy but that doesn’t affect how they love and care for us. They offer us the only bedroom in the house without exception. No matter how hard we argue that we should be the one’s sleeping on the couch and the carpet, there is no winning. Those who have the least are always the most giving with what little they have.
This love is home.
There is barely enough room for all of us to sit together but we are able to squeeze in and all sit by the table for dinner. My uncle is able to join us tonight, he just got back from the ongoing war in the east. He has the most beautiful newborn but has to leave him again after dinner. He has to go back out as it’s the only job he was able to get to support his family. He and my aunt have endless love for each other, I wish there was a way the corruption in this country could end so that he can be the present father figure he wishes to be who will be there to watch his little boy grow up. On his few days off his family finds peace by being together, it’s their escape from reality with what little time they have.
This is the reality of home.
They got so excited for us to come visit that they prepared enough food to feed a family twice the size of ours! The table is coated with miseria, perogies, borsch, cabbage rolls, every Ukrainian’s paradise. All that we ate was made with pure love, from the fingertips that pinched the dough to the kind neighbours that offered the vegetables from their gardens. We eat, we eat and we eat some more until our bellies cannot fit another bite. Saying “no thank you” to the offer of more food was not an option. As soon as you cleared your plate, somehow, it was miraculously filled once again. Food is our form of love.
This is home.
My favourite morning follows that dinner. I am last to wake in the room with two single beds pushed together that my parents, my sister and I all shared. As I open the door the laughter and giggles become more clear. I turn the corner into the kitchen where everyone’s sitting at the tiny table with a seat saved for me on the edge. I can hear the oil sizzling as my great aunt fries potato pancakes. I can smell the fresh pot of coffee my mother is tending to. As everyone is digging into this morning’s breakfast, which is filled with last night’s memories, I wish my grandparents could have come to Ukraine with us. I have never woken up happier than at this moment in time. The peaceful chaos that felt so natural overjoyed me.
I am home.
I never understood why my babusia and didus wanted me to go to Ukraine so badly until I experienced it for myself. They always talked about how I was going to love it there and never want to come back. They say home is where the heart is; my heart lies in Ukraine.