I am mostly
grateful to my parents for just letting me be ME.
When I was a little girl I would spend most of my summers playing alone around our house. My parents did not believe in summer camps in communist Czechoslovakia. They were worried that I would get brainwashed there. My mom also believed that 3 weeks in a camp for children under ten years old is too much anyway. I don’t know who would be more homesick, her or me. So, I learned to entertain myself very well (something that came in handy when I moved to America and did not know anybody).
I was about seven years old. Our backyard became my whole world. It had two concrete platforms. One was a septic cover with two smooth steps. The other was a concrete staircase leading to the front door. In my imagination I turned the septic cover in to this huge tram that would take me places. Mostly to the airport. Then I entered the second platform (the staircase) which was my staircase to the airplane. This way I travelled around the world every day. Of course I had to stand very still on these platforms because I was in the vehicle. I also climbed the stairs over and over and never forgot to wave goodbye to my imaginary family. One day my mom was watching me out of the window, and she asked me, “Katka, what are you doing?” I told her that I was traveling around the world and there is my tram and there is my airplane. My mom smiled and said: “I don’t want to hold you up, you seem like you are in a rush, but I think you should definitely bring a suitcase with you.” And then she went to the attic and found the coolest suitcase ever. It was the perfect size for a child, a smaller size. But in my young eyes it seemed huge. My mom said that it is my dad’s and that it was made before WWII. It was brown with many buckles, and covered in stickers from all over the world. I loved it! I packed in it all of the important things. You know, like my dolls, pen and paper, chewing gums, two pairs of underwear and two pairs of socks. I also added a homemade passport and some play money. And off I went! Happy as I could be, dragging the suitcase from the septic tank to the staircase, back and forth.
When I grew up and decided to move to America, I went to ask my parents if they were OK with it. If they thought that they will miss me too much then I would not go. We already had most of our family living abroad and I grew up watching my grandma missing her children to the point where it hurt us with her. My parents told me that the most important thing for parents is to know that their child is happy. If I will be happy on the other side of the world, then they will be happy too. They can order me to stay, but if I will be unhappy, then they will be too. That is how I learned what unselfish, unconditional love means.
My parents were the reason I started to write travelogues. I wanted to share with them what I saw, what I lived, what I felt. My dad does not like reading, but he loves to listen to stories, and is very curious about the world. I had to learn to write for him.
Now I write for more people, but it is good to remind myself from time to time where the reason for writing came from. J