Life, Love & Other Lessons Learned
Volume 1: Chapter 2
Chapter 2: The Road Begins
It was just another day, or at least it seemed like that in Katya’s mind. As she was nearing her late teens and getting ready to move on to college, she was spending a lot of time lately thinking about what she wanted to do with her life. Tall and slender with light brown hair that fell just above her shoulder, Katya was grateful for her slender physique, as it seemed to serve her well, in terms of engaging in her love of running. While others enjoyed competitive sports that involved playing on teams, she loved to run because, with running, it was about you. What you could do to make yourself feel better, or the chance to truly let your mind be free and have a sharper and clearer focus on what may have been troubling you at the time. This last concept was something that Katya found to be true, in that it would have become quite commonplace to have her early morning runs be a time in which she could be quiet with the thoughts that swarmed in her head and the only noise around her would be the rustling of the trees, or the sound of her feet as they hit the pavement.
Along with running, school had always been something that Katya enjoyed especially literature and history. She found that both seemed to fit her naturally exploring mind. With history, she could explore the facts of the world around her and with literature, she was able to engross herself and fall into the various worlds of the books that she would peruse, as she used them as a form of escape from the rigors of life. To thumb through the pages of such literary giants as Shakespeare and Dickens, she was able to find herself drawn into the worlds that those authors would create, as well as some of the other random works that she would come across. While she would from time to time go through and check out American literary work, she would have to admit that her fondness would have especially been for literature from authors of European background, as those were the literary composers that seemed to be able to fully grasp that wide breadth and beauty that the written word had to offer.
These were the things that she understood. With that being said, like anyone else in life it would seem, there would be a lot of other things that she either didn’t quite understand as clearly, or at all for that matter. One of those aspects in her life that seemed to be taking a bit to understand was relationships between people. How two people can come together and find a glimpse of something that connects them together, whether it’s for a split second, or for a lifetime. In a way she could understand the concept in theory but in other ways it would baffle her because, for the most part, human beings are characters of instinct and from a biological standpoint, the argument can be made that human beings are in line with their animal ancestry, for that people tend to be drawn toward multiple resources of comfort throughout their life and with that, the concept of eternal coupling would seem to be, while not entirely impossible to achieve, something that would seem largely unrealistic, especially in certain circumstances.
In any case, biology was not Katya’s educational goal, let alone personal interest, so it’s concepts were ones that she did not necessarily pay much attention to but with that, it was overall personal perception of human behavior from the outside that she would find the most intriguing. How people can have their basic ‘mask’ of sorts that they would wear to the outside world and once you would peel away that mask, if you were lucky as you would with an onion, you would often times find something that would shock you to one degree or another. Assumptions and generalizations are both generally dangerous tactics to take, as they can both draw ultimate conclusions that are not entirely accurate sometimes, if not wrong all together.
There remains a delicate balance between being able to actually find trust in someone and not lose who you are as a person all together, as people often fail to meet the expectations that we place upon them, as humans by nature are prone to fault and with that, have shades of grey to their otherwise black and white exterior. This is something that Katya’s mother had told her many times throughout her young life and she slowly began to realize the logic and reason in her mother’s assertions, as she was beginning to find them to be true. This would also be coupled with her mother’s proclamation that when it came to those of a more advanced age and of the opposite sex, it would often be wise to be careful in that age can bring about a level of experience that can leave the other, younger person at a level of disadvantage that can lead to discontent and concern.
This would come more into play later as Katya would transition into her young adulthood but for now, she would enjoy the process of leaving her adolescence and entering into a period of exploration and hope for the future. That passion and hope would begin this very day. This is what she thought to herself, as she put on her shoes and headed out of her bedroom door and down to the kitchen for breakfast. Her family owned a rather modest two story home that was situated in the suburbs of southern Atlanta and for a very large degree; it was a very nice house indeed. The house fulfilled the needs of her family quite nicely and she always smiled when she came home, as she felt quite fortunate that her family was able to be in such a position, as both of her parents were the products of immigrant families that sought to come to America and realize a new life. Her father was of Russian ancestry, while her mother and her family could be traced back to the lush green hillside of Ireland.
Our families, for better or worse, are the foundation that we start our lives from. The people that create the basis by which we go out into the world and try and realize our dreams and in the end, to make the progress to realize those dreams and sadly, also face those instances where we fall and have to pick ourselves back up. That’s something that became abundantly clear to Katya when she was younger and as she grew older, it would become even more so apparent. The lesson that, those people who are in our lives are meant to be there for a reason. Whether that reason is apparent in the beginning, or takes some time to understand. The people that are alongside our paths as we move down them and ideally, those who we can look toward in times of need and also, in times of triumph, for those are the aspects of individuals that allow them to come to be considered both friends and ultimately, those that we feel we can trust, as they will have earned the position of being those that we feel as if they wouldn’t ultimately betray us. For Katya, this last fear was something that she had always been afraid of happening to her in one form or another and at the present moment, was having to come to the sad realization of wondering if a relationship that had meant a great deal to her, was worth salvaging at the present time and quite simply, wondering if the relationship was what she’d made it out to be to begin with. Fortunately, she had been given the opportunity to take a 8 week trip to Eastern Europe as part of a research project through a program run by an older teacher of hers, so she saw it as a chance to explore her ancestry but also, at the same time, to dig deep within herself and to consider what she wanted out of life and who she felt like should be a part of that journey. This would be an amazing journey and one that would start first thing the following morning, so as she looked at her bags that were neatly packed and her passport that was sitting on her nightstand, she quietly thought to herself, “Let the journey begin”. For now, the object on her agenda was to go downstairs and enjoy the meal that her mother was preparing, so she ran a comb through her hair, looked at herself in the mirror and decided, the journey was about to begin and she was ready for it, no matter what that journey would bring.
Walking into the kitchen, Katya couldn’t help but smile. Her mother was always in the kitchen doing something and in the end, today was no different. Her mom was of medium height, so at this point Katya had gotten to be the same size as her mom, roughly a little taller. They would both joke of this every time she went to hug her mother, as it would require Katya to lean down slightly, or adjust her posture but still gave her the opportunity to give her mother a kiss on the cheek and issue the customary “Good Morning Momma”, as she had done every morning for more days then she could even remember. So, on this morning and especially since she would be gone for the next two months, Katya walked over and gently kissed her mother on the cheek and when her mother looked over at her, they both smiled at each other.
“Good Morning Momma,” Katya said with a warm smile directed at the woman who, despite her age, looked more like someone who could pass as Katya’s older sister then her mother. She remembered always thinking to herself that she was grateful that she was blessed with both her mother’s soft heart and determination but also, being blessed with her mother’s complexion, as it was nice to have skin that wasn’t problematic, especially when you’re a young girl.
“Good Morning my sweet girl, are you all set for your trip?” Ever the responsible mother, Sacha always looked out for the littlest of details and Katya appreciated that a great deal about her mother. Her father was like that as well but in the case of her mother, she always felt like her mother had a keener sense of the details and with that, felt like that acted as part of their bond that she had come to appreciate as she grew up and was finding herself valuing even more, as she looked toward this big adventure that she was going on the following day.
“Yes momma I am. I could smell your cooking from upstairs, so I figured that I could use a break, or let’s just say my stomach told me I should,” Katya replied with a laugh, to which her mother grinned a wide grin and revealed a plate full of food that she had already prepared and motioned toward the dinner table, as if signaling to her daughter that, no matter how old she got, when it would come down to it, as the cliché goes, ‘Mother knows best’. In many ways that cliché statement was more than just a statement, as Katya felt her mother was more than just the pseudo traditional maternal role but someone that had liver her own life by her own rules, to the best of her ability, as she had been raised in an immigrant family herself but someone who never ceased to encourage her daughter to face her fears, to reach for her dreams and to most importantly remember that, while it was always good to be respectful to those around you, in the end, respect was something that was earned and that no one had the right to feel as if they could demand the respect of anyone. It was this lesson in itself that Katya had worked quite hard to keep close to her and one that she was seeking to remember, as she was seeking to determine the precarious nature of one of her relationships at the moment but in essence, it would be a lesson that she knew would serve her well throughout anything she would experience in her life and for that, she would eternally be grateful to her mother for being someone that lived by such a code of both honor and integrity.
As she sat and quietly ate the breakfast that her mother lovingly prepared for her, Katya quietly contemplated her understanding of what it meant to her to be an honorable person and quite simply, to consider what integrity meant to her in the long run. In essence, it would only seem to be logical to her at least that everyone should try and be as honorable as possible, in terms of how they would go about their business and how they would treat others and in that case, to pursue a process by which a code of integrity could be found to be in place. While she would be the first to admit that, especially at her tender age, she would still have a lot to learn in this case but in that respect, she would also be one to argue that, age does not automatically mean that individuals will be honorable, have a semblance of integrity, or be able to adequately argue that they would possess both qualities within their own moral structure. This would be something that she would have experienced personally lately, as she was quietly contemplating whether or not to maintain a personal friendship that had been quite important to her but due to recent events, it had caused her to call into question whether this person was someone that should be in her life.
As painful as it can be to try and determine whether or not someone should stay in your life, sometimes it just needs to be done and, over the course of this trip, Katya was hoping and praying to find some clarity of mind in this regard. She would have come to consider many of her friends to be like members of her own family and this particular individual was no different so, if it could be avoided, she was hoping to find a sign or some internal intuitive belief that she could find it within her to see a way for this person to be a part of her life, as no matter what may had transpired, she still found a great deal of care toward them even at the present time. While some would largely argue that such an approach would be fruitless, or the approach of a naïve girl, those kind of arguments would be taken into account but for only a certain degree, in terms of the fact that, at her core, Katya always held true to the belief that, at the end of the day, she had her own compass to go by and no matter what others thought, she always wanted to find the best possible way to approach something in such a manner in which she would feel as if she could lay her head on her pillow at night and in this case specifically, she felt the same approach, albeit varied, would still be one that she would wish to attempt.