Making Room For Good Things

An Uzbeki sausage almost got us deported from Canada.

Let me start from the beginning though 😉

I was nine years old and sitting in the living room back in Uzbekistan. My mom rushed in “Pack quickly, we’re leaving the country.”

I was completely confused and looked at my brother. He looked back sadly “ I can’t come with you.” Now I’m even more confused, but I listened to my mom. We packed quickly and rushed to the airport.

My dad was waiting at the airport, crying. I was still confused and it only got worse. My mom said “Don’t talk to anybody. You don’t speak English.” I didn’t speak English so this seemed an unnecessary instruction but I was confused enough and scared enough that I went along with it. “Just don’t say anything. We’re flying out. We only have one chance.”

We flew to the US. We had some friends there and we stayed there for a couple of days. What I remember most about those days is the smell of sausage. I couldn’t understand it but it just stuck with me.

On sixth day, we got a taxi and as we got inside, my mom who only knew a couple of words in English said “Canada” and pointed at this little laminated map. The taxi driver was a bit confused but he understood and a couple of hours later we got dropped off at a lone building in the middle of a field in the middle of the night. I was still confused.

A giant officer greeted us and my mom said “Canada?”

 The officer shook his head and said “America.”

Now my mom is scared and confused because we told the taxi driver to take us to Canada. How was this possible? The officer calmly pointed out the window to another building across the field that looked exactly the same as the one we were in but had a Canadian flag flying over it.

We gathered our things and walked over. Another officer greeted us and again my mom said “Canada?” This time the officer nodded. In relief my mom said “Help. Translator.”

They put us in a room and got the process started. A lawyer was called. A translator was called. My mom is explaining things to one of the officers. I’m still confused but not paying too much attention. But then I noticed another officer going through my mom’s things.

Suddenly there was an overwhelming smell of sausage and the officer going through the bags pulled out a giant sausage. It was both strange and explained my earlier experience. The officer looked at the sausage and at my mom and said “You can’t bring outside food into the country. We can’t let you have this.”

My mom was confused because in the States there were no problems and of course everything was being translated so she thought there might be some misunderstanding. So my mom said “It’s fine, it’s fine, don’t worry about it, we’ll take it.”

 I don’t think my mom realized how serious this was but the officer was now frowning. “Ma’am, you don’t understand, we can’t have you take any outside food into the country.”.

And then my mom tells the translator, “Tell the officer to give me a knife. I will cut off a piece of the meat so she can try it and see that it’s safe.”

The translator, God bless her, said “Ma’am, I’m not gonna translate that. Leave it alone. It doesn’t matter. Sausage is not important.”

My mom thought it was important. So my mom got up and pointed at the sausage and pointed at her mouth and urged the officer to have a bite. At this point the officer was confused and she started to laugh uncomfortably. She had probably never had a woman try to force feed her Uzbeki sausage before. At that moment the translator chimed in “You’ve left so much behind just leave this, let them throw it out. Otherwise, they are going to send you back.”

My mom was frustrated and angry. She has always been a fighter and I love her for that. But in that moment she realized that the entry fee to a new and better place meant you have to make room. Even if that means throwing out delicious Uzbeki sausage. So we became refugees, then landed immigrants and now citizens.  It’s been 26 years and I’m very grateful.

My mom left everything behind in order to give us a better chance. Even my brother was left behind. It’s a hard lesson to learn. We have to make room for new things in our lives and let go of the old things.

Nostalgia is a funny thing. Because what it does is it paints over all the ugly parts. I loved spending part of my childhood in Uzbekistan, but the reality was that it wasn’t a great place for opportunities. And that’s why we left. I have often been told “Aleks, let it go. Let go of the past. Let go of the anger, the disappointment, the heartache.” But it isn’t easy.

We only have so much space physically, mentally, and emotionally. There’s all this stuff, the old relationships, old jobs, old memories, habits, all of that.

I guess what I am learning is to have room for all the amazing things we have to make room by first releasing all the old stuff.

It served us at one point but not anymore and that’s ok. These days I am trying to let go of the old Aleks so I can make room for the new Aleks and all the amazing things that are coming his way.

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