The other story.

Here’s the story you probably know nothing about.

I was…

Born in a fishing village during the Cold War.

State TV, two channels, no cartoons on Saturday mornings.

Parents divorced, no therapy.

Chernobyl blew up. Iodine pills for everyone!

Relocated to the US at age 17. Ended up in high school with 2,000 kids, speaking a different language, no ESL. What’s a guidance counselor?

Managed to get into Kent State.

Joined National Guard to pay for it all. Worked almost full-time throughout.

Called to active duty after 9/11. Had to drop all my classes, graduate late. Worked tech support job over the phone to make ends meet.

Interviewed with the CIA.

Decided to go back to school to become a teacher.

Ramen noodles to keep debt low.

New job, first child, new house in same year.

Another job. Finally at destination. 3 years.

Lost job. Filed for unemployment.

New job, less than half the pay. Now two kids.

And so on…

You get the idea. It’s not all a dance on roses. People struggle. Often unseen. Often without telling anyone. Often, by themselves.

Why am I telling you this? And why does it matter?

We took a cooking class the other day, and a few other folks were there. Most of them older, retired, happy-go-lucky, let’s drink some wine, “we’ve been getting together for 20 years” kind of a crowd.

I heard another accent, and shared a story with Sergeyi. Worse story than mine, out of Europe. Still conflicted. Ongoing conflict now. And I appreciated making the connection.

This country, after all, the land of the free, and home of the brave. And the story that comes with it… And those who live here? Often not from around here, if you bother to ask.

“What’s with the sob story above? You’ve had so many great things happen and been so lucky!”

Sure have.

It’s all about perspective, right? I could choose to focus on the bad parts, and I try hard not to each day. But some of them weigh you down like a fuckin’ anchor.