Many people ask me what we brought with us to America, when we immigrated here in 1989.
Well… Most Russians brought over money and diamonds. Since we were neither smart or rich, this is literally what we had in our suitcases:
Someone had told my parents that in order NOT to spend money once we got to the U.S., we should absolutely pack the necessities.
As we got to the airport in Moscow, we had to go through Russian security and customs. Imagine hairy, big, Russian Army soldiers with AK-47 Kalashnikov’s opening our luggage as rolls and rolls, and rolls of Soviet issued toilet paper come flying out…
That wasn’t all. My parents had a whole separate luggage that when opened by one of the guards, had Soviet issued CONDOMS falling out of it. Let me re-phrase this, it had NOTHING but condoms in the luggage!
The guard looked at my parents, as if to say, what the hell is wrong with you people? Back then, most Jews left Russia loaded with money and diamonds. But not us, we went with far more important things, like rock hard sand paper for the bathroom, and condoms. Because that is what’s important in life!
I can only imagine what those soldiers were thinking… What kind of Jews leave Mother Russia with nothing but condoms? What are you planning on doing there? Having sex for money?
We also had a whole luggage devoted to pillows, yes pillows, the kind you sleep on. And of course, home-made women’s monthly menstruation supplies. I think that was the best one of all. Picture bags of cotton, not cotton balls, just cotton wrapped in medical gauze! When most people were bribing dock workers, and paying money to get their jewels shipped overseas, my Mother was bribing hospital employees to get her much needed gauze and cotton…
Can you tell yet where my parents’ priorities were? It does explain a bit about how my brother and I turned out, doesn’t it?