Movin'

I've slept in 6 different places since having to leave my home because of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. My husband and I puttered about western Ukraine for a couple days, mostly just to get my family back in the States to relax for a bit. Then we moved to Turkey, expecting to wait things out for a bit while tensions cooled off.


Instead, I woke up on the 24th to missed calls and texts, and headlines that left me numb. The home we left won't be the same home we return to.


Now? We're in Bulgaria. This is the second time in my life I've moved to a country without having visited first; it's the third time my husband and I have crossed international borders to build a better life. My in-laws arrived a couple days after us, exhausted from two trains, a bus ride, two border crossings, and a lift in a fire truck (still haven't figured out the details from that one). They came with four small bags, $100 given to them by a kind stranger at a station, and a shellshocked look on their faces. Now the five of us are sharing an apartment, leaning on each other for support and a sense of calm.


Before I got married, I told my husband that the thing most important in my life was a sense of security. I'm up for adventure, but I need to feel safe. For me that means having a permanent place to live, and moments of privacy. Right now, I don't have either. But I do have a place to lay my head, and the assurance that most of my family is out of harm's way.


Bulgaria has been kind to us so far. I love turning a corner and being surprised at the mountain views that I somehow always forget are there. I love the way their bread tastes, the good, cheap coffee, and that I can recognize enough of the language to get by. Even the stark Soviet architecture is a comforting similarity to Kyiv, though it's interspersed with Turkish, Greek, and modern styles. Even the red tape and long lines at the immigration office make me feel at home.


I don't know how long we'll be here. Some friends think we'll be able to return by summer; others say we'll never see the fields of Ukraine again. Maybe it's just my own coping mechanism, but I'm mentally preparing myself for a few years away. Even if the war ends today, it will take years, maybe a generation, to rebuild and recover. Kyiv is home, but so is my husband, my family, and even myself.


My twenties are composed of short chapters. Here's to another, and coming out alright on the other side.