A human mind works in strange ways. It erases the hurtful memories, leaving bright and blurry flashes of moments most dear to you. Many times I have turned to my memories of childhood, searching for something that would explain why things are the way they are. But the realities of growing up in a tiny village in southwest Russia have been warped to fit my own visions of a perfect childhood - and all I can remember are the sweet smell of dust in the attic, sleepy afternoon cloud watching while lying on the silky grass, and many other memories, most which are probably the products of my imagination.
One such memory is of my only true companion who was with me through thick and thin. Her name was Katie; she had brown eyes and curls, and was the most beautiful (and only) German doll I ever had. I had her for as long as I can remember, and when I was young I never parted with her. Unfortunately, her appearance reflected that. Her once beautiful rose-pink dress had mysterious stains after one of our visits to the chicken coop. Her face, with blue ink marks on the right cheek, was a reminder of the day I first attempted to write, and her dark brown locks were tangled and torn after the numerous baths and different hairdos I subjected her to. But as a child I didn't see those imperfections and adored her, making her my world.
And while remembering my time in the burning sun of Novokubansk, carelessly fishing for tadpoles, I never once accurately recalled the poverty and degradation of the society around me, the emptiness of the grocery stores, the crucial day of the political coup of President Gorbachev, or everyone's fear for their future. But today, as I see the pain on the faces of my parents and relatives as they recall these events, I wonder if your mind's trick is really self defense against what is too painful. And maybe some things are best forgotten, like the fact that once I wasn't around to play with Katie, she was destroyed by the daughter of a neighbor. c
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.