During my school years, I thought of writing as a necessity. Later, as an escape from reality in the form of poetry. Now, it’s a combination of both, spiced up with barely tangible notes of nostalgia and sweet memories of the past. Who would think that I end up writing some sort of memoir before I hit the Big 30? Well, no one, including myself. Then, I thought of memoirs as a last resort, when nothing’s left to live for in present, so people look into their past. I imagined memoir writers as unaccomplished losers who could not convince anyone in their worthiness of writing a biography, so they had to do it themselves. Now, being more mature and rational, I’m doing this not because there’s nothing exciting happening now, but because those moments of the past are worth sharing.
Back then, when I thought of a computer as the most important thing one could own, I didn’t have one. I wasn’t alone: only few kids in my school could boast with their devices. Their parents were very concerned about all the “harmful emissions and flashes” and only let children “play” with the machine an hour or two each day. Not too many people considered computer a powerful learning tool then, and, partially, due to the lack of the Internet connection, that was not too far from the truth. My friend Kate’s parents thought computer was just an oversized calculator, plus the “dangerous” graphics and the extra peripheral devices on the side. I was always fascinated with computers, and, being at Kate’s house, asked her to let me spend some time in front of the monitor.
My mom was fine with the idea of having a computer at home, the only problem was, she couldn’t afford it. Raising me on her own, paying the mortgage and providing all the essentials was quite a challenge for a pharmacist. She did her best and I never had a feeling of being left out, though sometimes I had to wonder why many things were “out of scope” for us. Mom bought a small two-bedroom house in mid-nineties, when we moved out of my grandparents’ residence. It felt very refreshing and liberating, especially for my twelve-year-old self. I could hang out with friends after school, go to their places and even visit some other venues in town. Mom usually got home after 4.30 PM, so I had about 2 hours a day to do all of my “extra curriculum activities”.
After graduation from elementary school, I was really bored. There was not enough challenge for me at school, as I passed all the tests without even having to study beforehand. They offered me to jump over one grade, so I could join the middle school after the third grade, but I didn’t want to leave my friends behind and go into a new group. Instead, I stayed and tried to have fun as much as it was possible. After classes, I’d volunteer for the school paper writing, origami making, or any other activities that were aimed at cultural development of students. I used to run a little “botany corner” on the first floor of the school, watering and caring for the plants there.
Middle school wasn’t much different: during grades 5 through 9 I was counting days until I’d graduate so I could go to the high school in the city. This was a part of the deal mom and I had made: if I graduate with all As, I could choose a high school to go to, even if it meant moving out of mom’s house (win-win!). My teachers used to send me to various school district’s contests and competitions, often among older students, and I’d take it as a fun part of the studying. The whole process was pretty engaging, and I got to know few interesting people couple years senior. We’d meet up during school breaks and all my classmates would be extremely jealous.
The only true female friend I had during middle school was Kate. We still keep in touch, though our lives are very different now and we live half the globe across from each other. Kate had an older sister, who was also very pleasant to talk to. Since we shared the first name, we’d joke that Kate’s mom always has an Olga to look after her younger daughter.
Kate’s sister Olga was always into fashion and beauty. She had a good eye and could easily pick an outfit for anyone she knew. Kate and I were sure to have a real expert when it came to getting ready for parties or other “important” events. Olga was also very talented with drawing, especially when it came to sketching clothing prototypes. She had an album which was kept strictly on her desk, and everyone in the house took it very seriously. Their mom was proud of both of her daughters, and treated their passions with respect. When they were teenagers, Olga and later, Kate, became Avon consultants, offering products to their family and school friends. I used to get the best advice and generous discount on all Avon, which seemed to be the beauty culprit for all young girls at that time.
At the age of fifteen, Kate’s sister graduated from the middle school and was accepted to the School of Fashion in the city of Svarog, where my heart belonged as well. It was another proof for me that there’s nothing promising in finishing the high school close to home. Kate, on the other hand, was okay with it as she hoped to apply to the Svarog State University right after high school. With her grades, which were excellent, she had high chances to do so. On the other hand, I had something else in mind.