[From Russia with old suitcases...]

My Self

I still have one of those old suitcases in the back of the closet. It's about as old as I am.... Its travels began early in 1975 when it left Moscow, U.S.S.R, by train to Yerevan, Armenia, with my Armenian father, my Russian mother, and me, an eight-year-old Armenian-Russian. There, it got on a plane to Beirut, Lebanon.

In Lebanon, the suitcase and its owners sat around under indefinite refugee status for almost a year, waiting for legal admittance by any country in the western world. At the same time, a civil war started in Lebanon, involving Christian, Moslem, and Palestinian Arab factions. The suitcase was very happy to be in a strong old stone house because missiles were flying overhead, a new crop of bullets (ironically, made in the U.S.S.R!) was falling on the roof every night, and snipers were hiding in many buildings all over Beirut. However, with the help of an Armenian church organization, the suitcase and its owners got on a plane to Greece, to rest for a couple of months -- still without a country, but happy to be away from the war, in a beautiful place. Greece, the land of my dreams! The suitcase's littlest owner's heart sang!

Next, it was loaded onto a plane to Rome, Italy from where it finally landed in New York, USA, sat around for several days while its owners got permanent resident alien status and tried to decide where to go next. Eventually it was put on a plane to California, and found its home. Phew!

We put the suitcase and its fellows away in a closet. And a month later, I turned ten. My new life in America began! To this country, the only place that took us in, I will always be grateful....

And here is the story of Wednesday, July 28th, 1999, the day on which I became a United States Citizen.

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