Chapter 1 - A dream
Have you ever had a dream you wanted to achieve so badly that you were ready to go against your own family to reach it?
I have and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
I parked my car in front of the run-down building towering above my head. It didn’t look like much from the outside and sure wasn’t in the safest neighborhood, but this would be my home for the coming year. That is if everything went well. No matter how I looked at it, my excitement never faltered. This was the start of my journey.
I had chosen this place specifically because it was close to the stadium I was trying out for and was in a cheaper neighborhood which was all I could afford at this point.
I pushed my car door open and walked to the trunk, popping it open. I looked at each bag, boxes, and suitcases. I stood there for a moment, mentally planning how I could combine items to avoid having to go up and down the stairs too many time. Satisfied, I grabbed the first box and hooked one of the lighter bags around each elbow. Damn this was heavy!
Walking towards the door, I felt relieved when I saw someone opening the door in front of me.
“Hey!” I greeted politely just as he opened the door. He didn’t bother answering me and simply walked in, releasing the door behind him, making it slam against the hands that were carrying the box.
“Jackass,” I mumbled under my breath. Deep breath Kathanya, this is a good day remember, this is the start of everything you worked so hard for. With another cleansing breath, I pushed the remaining of the door open with my foot. I mean, I know we’re strangers but isn’t it common practice to at least hold the door for someone carrying so many things? It’s not like I was asking for him to carry anything. Seriously what an ass! I fumed internally, clearly, this deep breath mediation bullshit wasn’t working for me.
Turning my back to the door, I pushed it open further until I was able to twist my body inside. My eyes landed on the next challenge. There was no elevator in this building. My apartment was on the second floor. Two flights of stairs. How hard can it be?
After my second round, I was starting to realize just how hard it was to carry heavy objects up two flights of stairs. I was sweating like a pig and breathing like a fish out of water. I know, a clear definition of sexy I’m a right? Only five more rounds. I groaned internally.
As I carried one of my larger suitcases up the stairs to my apartment, I heard a rustling noise and looked beyond my suitcase just in time to see the same man I had seen earlier exiting the apartment next to mine. He was carrying a large duffle bag and rushed down the stairs. He barely acknowledged my presence when he shouldered me on his way down, nearly making me lose balance.
“Asshole!” I shouted this time as his back disappeared past the door. What was wrong with this guy?! Not only was he rude, but he was clearly a danger for society. I mean what the hell!? I was so pissed off my adrenaline made the suitcase I was carrying as light as feather. I stomped to my apartment, slamming my door for good measure.
After another half hour, all my belongings were finally in my apartment, each in their correct room. Each of my boxes had been labeled according to where I would need to place them in the apartment. After closing the door, I let myself fall onto the couch. My arms were sore, and I swear I would yell at someone if I had to carry even just one more. I don’t care if it was a feather-light backpack. The answer was ‘Hell no!’.
I could already hear my mother’s voice in my head telling me ‘Well if you didn’t have so many things you wouldn’t be tired’. I know, believe me I know, but can’t a girl just vent for a bit?
I poured myself a glass of cold water and took a well-deserved break. I looked around my new home. It wasn’t as big as the house I had grown up in, but it had a bedroom, a small living room connected to the open kitchen, and a decent bathroom. The couch was comfortable and hot water was available. What else could I ask for?
I decided to sit down on the floor and open on of the boxes labeled ‘LIVING ROOM’. I pealed the lid of the box open and grabbed the first element which was my graduation cap. I snorted. Look who’s already siding with my mother. I thought to the universe. I placed it next to me on the floor. I would find a place for it later.
My phone rang just as I was about to pick up the next things. I fished my phone out of my pocket and smiled.
“Hey, dad!” I greeted happily “I thought you weren’t allowed to talk to me,” I teased.
“Yeah well, what your mom doesn’t know won’t get me in trouble right?” He said sheepishly.
“Your secret is safe with me,” I said laughing. I was glad to hear from him, I had been afraid he would listen to my mother and cut me out of his life for a full year like she wanted.
“She’ll come around, sweetheart, you know how she is. She wants what’s best for you,” he sighed. I was valedictorian in high school and had just finished top of my class in business management, but this was where I drew the line. My dream had a time limit and the time to do it was now. I wanted to cheer. Let’s just say that I made quite a few heads turn when I announced I wouldn’t be looking for a job, or going for my masters after graduation, but instead, I was going to dance.
Not everyone was happy with my choice. My mother was at the front of that line. I had stopped counting the number of times I had heard my mother compare being a cheerleader to being a glorified stripper. We had fought hours on this subject in high school, to which she had won since I ended up going to college. This time I was an adult, and I wouldn’t let her control my life anymore. I understood the value of education, don’t get me wrong. I just needed to shift things around a little. I could do an MBA later in life, but I wouldn’t be able to dance when my body would start to rust.
“I know. I just wish she was supportive,” I admitted sadly. “Where are you off to this time?” I asked trying to lighten the mood. My father was a Russian businessman who spent most of his time traveling around the world to make new business deals. He met my mother in England when studying for his master’s degree and they had fallen madly in love. My father was expatriated to the US when I was only six, and our entire family moved with him.
“I’m actually getting into customs, I just wanted to check that you were doing okay and starting to get settled.”
“No worries dad, I’ll talk to you later. Everything is fine here, no need to worry,” I said with a smile. My father wasn’t home very often but he always found time to call, it never lasted long but how many kids could say that their parents took time to call them between meetings, in their car, or during the ten-minute lunchtime they had? Okay, fine probably quite a few, but I still felt grateful.
“I love you, take care dorogaya.”
“Love you too, Papa.” With these last few words, the phone went silent.
I knew that this dream of mine was too important for me not to at least try to reach it, but the strain it was creating on my family tore at my heart.
My mother had always been a huge part of my life, especially with my father traveling most of the time. It was only her and I. I’ll admit it wasn’t always easy, and we weren’t best friends like I knew some families to be like.
Marie Belova was a short Indonesian woman but let me tell you this: men coward behind their Asian wives, they are strong, straight to the point and no-nonsense kind of woman. At least that’s how my mother is. That, unfortunately, meant that my uprising consisted of many Asian traditions which were sometimes hard to accept when living in a western world. It was important not to show too much skin, ripped jeans were trashy, short dresses were slutty, B+ was unacceptable, going out to a friend’s house on a weekday was unimaginable and so on. My father on the other hand was the laxest between the two, allowing me to break rules my mother had set or even taking me out himself.
You could say that joining the cheer squad in high school was my way of rebelling. I mean she couldn’t do anything about the school uniform, and it would look good on my college application, or at least that’s how I managed to convince her. Once I started dancing, it wasn’t hard for me to fall in love with it, to crave the electrifying crowd, and enjoyed cheering for a sport I was passionate about.
Standing up, I set the picture frame I had taken from the box on the window seal. It didn’t matter to me if we fought, family was still family and hopefully one day they would come around and support me.
By the end of the day, I had managed to unpack every single box. In a way, I had always done this when moving. It helped me feel at home immediately rather than waking up to unpacked boxes lying across the apartment, or not having what I needed because it was still wrapped up or lost in one of the carton boxes. This was my new home and the sooner I unpacked, the sooner it would become a reality.
In a few days, tryouts would start, and I was more than ready to show the world what I had. Nope, not stressed. Not stressed at all.