Two Tales of One (Life) Story

Tale #1

I was born in 1979 in communistic Czechoslovakia. We were a family of four living in a crammed, two bedroom, one bath apartment. It was one of those typical square communistic apartment buildings where you could hear different neighbors argue every night.

We called our teachers comrades. On state holidays, we wore blue uniforms with red scarves and pioneer pins.

We didn't have brands or supermarkets - grocery stores had milk, bread and butter. One choice. We could only buy jeans in special stores with special currency that my parents never had. I didn't know much about the Western world. My only trip abroad - before the Velvet Revolution - was to Ukraine.

We were most definitely brainwashed growing up. Why did people not stand up to the regime? Because there was too much in stake. They were afraid for their lives and the lives of their dear ones. Eventually, the iron curtain did come down anyways.

Unfortunately, things went down the hill from there. Corruption soared. Economy plummeted. People were disenchanted.

After finishing college, I left to the United States as an au-pair. The Long Island family I worked for didn't really care about me. Their kids were spoiled. New York City was filthy and alien to me. It never felt like home.

I fell in love, got married and moved to Colorado. My marriage didn't last. Going through a divorce in a foreign country, without family and close friends to help, was one of the hardest things I've been through.

I live in California now, married again and with two children. My husband works a lot and even though we are taken care of, I often feel like I've wasted my potential and became just a housewife.

I am too far away from my family. I miss the Slovak culture - the sense of humor, the references to movies and books nobody here has even heard about, the cuisine, the customs. I still feel like an outsider here. I'm not sure it'll ever change.

Tale #2

I was born in 1979 in communistic Czechoslovakia. The apartment where I was brought up is still my parents' residence. Every time I visit I'm flooded with memories. Apartment living has some great advantages - even today, scheduling play dates is not necessary. You just walk across the hall and ring the doorbell.

When I went to school, everyone had more or less the same amount of the same things. Nobody was really poor and nobody was really rich. In that regard, we grew up as equals.

I still miss the fresh baked bread. A slice with butter was my favorite meal (and still is).

Despite the regime that punished those who criticized it, people never gave up. Putting their lives - and the lives of their families - on the line, they were never completely silenced. Thousands of people - young and old - marched in the streets in Velvet Revolution. The iron curtain came down at last.

People started fulfilling their potential and following their dreams. I decided to set out on my own adventure and left to New York as an au-pair. The two girls I took care of were old enough and didn't require much work. I had a car for my own use and plenty of free time to get out and explore. New York City was exactly like in the movies and I never stopped being in awe when I walked down the streets with a cup of Starbucks coffee in my hand.

I fell in love and got married. We moved to Colorado. I've always loved mountains and Colorado didn't disappoint. Unfortunately the marriage didn't last. It was one of the hardest times in my life, but so many people stepped forward to help - they offered me their support, their homes and their shoulders to cry on.

I live in California now. I am married to an amazing man and we have two beautiful children together. I couldn't ask for more.

Living in a different country allowed me to see the world from a different point of view. It's probably the single biggest non-material gift I was ever given. I'm forever grateful for that.

The stories above are not an example of a pessimist versus an optimist. The stories above present an infinite number of combinations that my life has been.

Every sentence in each version is completely true. Every feeling depicted was lived.

You could mix and match any sentence from each version and the story you'd come out with would still be completely true. Yet each such story would give you a different impression about my life. And even that impression would be influenced by the infinite combinations taking place in your own life.

Because that's what life is - anything but a single story.


  1. These stores are great Andrea! It's amazing how the different interpretations convey a different life, a different person, yet I as I read them again, I can see how they are all facets of the one whole.
    I love bread and butter too.
    Cheers, Janice.

    1. Thank you, Janice! I've been thinking about it a lot lately. And cheers to bread and butter! (I just finished a piece for breakfast.)