I wake up in another hotel room somewhere in this world. I look around the room. It all looks the same. Bed, table, chair and TV. I remember making a promise to myself, to keep track of how many hotel rooms I will be staying at if I made it as a pro. But long ago lost count.
I was 12 when I traveled outside of Soviet Union for the first time. Me and other 8 kids went to Italy to play a junior tournament. My mother gave me 2 towels and 3 roles of toilet paper for a week. She didn't know that hotels in foreign countries had all that and even shampoo and soap. Soviet hotels only provided bed sheets, and sometimes you even had to bring those with you.
We landed in Rome, and drove for 5 hrs to a country side in a big yellow van. To a small town the name of which I can't recall. Our one stop on the way was at a gas station. I remember walking in, to use a bathroom, and standing still in front of shelves filled with things.
For several minutes I stood in shock in the middle of a small space. Other kids gathered behind me and were also speechless. All we saw back home were empty shelves in the stores and long lines outside. Sometimes my mother stood in line all night to get me a pair of jeans, without knowing that she will get it for sure.
Grey and black were dominant colors in Soviet times. So for us kids it was magical to see so many colorful things in one place!
When the initial shock was gone we started exploring. Whispering at first and than talking loud, excited to think of what we could buy when we'll have the money. We found courage to touch things. There were toys, dolls, chocolate bars, chewing gums.....Even the car parts looked great to us. There was so much color, it took our breath away!
We lost track of time, when one of our coaches called us back to the van. We didn't want to leave. All of us forgot to use the restroom, and sat quietly for the rest of the way under impression of what we have just seen.
We were only children, but already than we understood that life back home was not as great as we thought. Here, no one stood in line for food. Clothing was available to buy every day in any size and color. People were happy and smelled good. Life seemed to be enjoyable and happy. And back than I knew, I have a lot to fight for, but I didn't know that it will be a long bumpy road before I reach my goal.
Time to get up Alina. Another day, another town. It may have been a long road to get where I am right now, but if I were to do it al over again I wouldn't change a thing!