It Was Freedom I Was Interested in
Coca N.

            I had meals with my cousin?s place. Clothing was interesting. My children started to send me clothes from Romania, because I had travelled light in May when coming here; I was afraid it would catch the eye of a customs officer. That was another problem too. If they had seen too much luggage?..So I traveled light as any common Romanian traveler to America who returns with stuffed luggage. They sent my own dresses little by little. When somebody left for Romania I used to send money and in exchange the children sent me my clothes. I sent money by different people. I was left with a little money too because I was saving up; I had only 48 kilos; I missed the children so much that I could hardly eat anything. It was something that had turned into a physical problem. I could not swallow.

            The thought of returning to my native country did not cross my mind, but I do remember a hot July day. I was working at a very high temperature at that company where it was the hell on earth and when I got out I was struck by a wet heat. The pavement was melting. And I remember a certain day when I felt very weak and I wanted to sit down on the pavement, it was a shady place and nobody would have cared, it wouldn?t have caught the eye, but I knew very well that if I had sat down I couldn?t have stood up. I was failing. So I went on going on the bridge until I got to the underground station. It was excellent on the underground because there was air conditioned. My friends knew these very well.

            I had once the chance of meeting some wonderful people due to some former neighbors from Romania. I called them to tell that I had come and their joy was great. They came that very evening and took me with my cousin. My neighbors in Pajura were very nice, very glad to see me although we were not real friends. They introduced me to some wonderful people and we have been good friends fore more than 22 years. That is our group of friends has been the same for 22 years, and something else I have always chosen very attentively were my friends.

            I worked with that company for a long time. I didn?t leave them. I would have liked to, because it would have been better from a financial point of view; it is better if you change jobs every other year. If you do so you get a better salary. However I had something else: I changed different jobs in the same company and this was a good thing too. Things were different with Radu within education, he has created himself a good position; things are different in business. I made friends with my fellow-workers. I sat the interview one day and I started work on Monday. Of course I couldn?t get to work so easily on Monday as I had done on the first day so I was late. I felt very sad after two weeks of work because I found disagreements in the inventory of jewel parcels. There were always more or less jewels. And I went to look up sheets again and I was very sad. When I told my fiend that it could happen only to me she said: You clever lady, you can see the mistakes at first sight but three more months should pass for others to realize that. And what I considered to be a disaster, it was in fact a credit for me because I was called after two weeks by the chief and she told me: You are too good to work in this job. You know this, don?t you? There is an opening with the statistics department. Go there! And I went to the interview to that department. The very moment I entered and I saw a desk of my own, you can imagine what it meant to me. To have a desk where there were a phone, a computer, a desk lamp and what not, that is to have a desk in an office with carpet on the floor after you had brushed clothes standing and to be in the Fifth Avenue in the corner with 43 Street! Once, later on, talking with my elder daughter, Catrinel, because I had been offered a better job with another company she told me: Mother, think twice if you want to give up the comfort you have here?

            I came to Romania for the first time after eight years and I was terribly afraid because I was not an American citizen yet. The children were already there. But I might say that I experienced the most terrifying things until my returning. Mother came after 14 months. It was then that I moved in this district Richwood. I had a four-room house but it was pretty for two persons and I told to myself that no matter who was the first to come he would have a place to live. I had not intended that mother should be the first to come. In fact I had all sorts of problems with both the Romanian and the American authorities. The trouble with Romania was the fact that I sent immediately an application to the Embassy in Washington giving up the Romanian citizenship. And I sent a bill of 200 dollars. I still have that bill. I have both the bill and my first passport which I refused to give back to the Romanian Embassy. It contains the first visas I got for America and France. The Consul from the Romanian Embassy called me in two weeks, funny thing, I met him later on in Romania, and he told me: Madam I have received your application but we advise you to give up. I have sent it back to you together with the check that is the money order because we advise you to apply for a Romanian citizen settled abroad. It seemed absurd to me. I wanted to forget about Romania and them? He added: We recommend you to accept this situation if you want to see your family quicker. And I realized there was something fishy about it, but I didn?t know what. It might have been because of Neguţ, as he had a position in education, in research, he was an inventor, I said to myself. In fact the truth was that it was the year when Ceausescu made a speech in Helsinki and there should have been a number of Romanian citizens settled abroad. Later on I found out which the mystery had been. Of course I got my money back from the Embassy and I sent another application and the hostilities started later on. In the meanwhile things didn?t move too quickly at the Emigration Office. It was state in state then. It has recently passed to the Justice Department. And I started? I went to that office every other six months to have my right to work extended. In fact I went there just for a stamp. I still keep those documents, I have them, I couldn?t part with them. These are a souvenir, that?s why I keep saying that I can not provide data. I also keep some of the first things bought in America, there are some little animal knick-knacks in my China cabinet. There are also some other small things which seem very strange but which meant something for me: a trip, a small memory from somewhere. Anyway, I remember that the first money I spent for myself was to buy something from Woolworth shop (a D.I.Y. shop) which was then very popular and full of patterns for skirts, dresses and anything you would have liked and with the cloth next to it, with the suitable thread and everything you needed. The only thing they didn?t have were the scissors. They were arranged according to sizes, to take just what was fit for you. That was my first investment, I paid about 20 dollars on an envelope like that and I made myself a dress. Meanwhile I was knitting myself a suit-skirt and jacket for winter. So, I could change quite often, I did not have, I couldn?t afford, anything else. The only and the first dress I bought from the company where I worked at the beginning was a natural silk dress, a superb one for which I paid 25 dollars and which is still worn by my friend.

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