About two and a half years ago, I was sitting on my couch late at night, playing around on Face Book and trying to procrastinate going to bed, when a message pops up on my screen from a name I had never seen before. I have agreed to protect her privacy so lets calls her Anastasia.
Was all it said, I kind of looked at it for a minute trying to figure out if I should respond, being the friendly easygoing soul that I am, I decided to reply back
“how are you?”
I am good thank you, I’m sorry but do I know you?
No you do not know me, and I do not know you, but I found you on the page of a mutual friend looked at your profile and photos and decided to say hello.
And so began a correspondence that has ran the length of two and a half years!
First we would shoot text messages back and forth, I knew she was from a different country and her name sounded Russian, but come to find out, she was from Chechnya,( which is in Russia, but ruled by a different leader) I had always been interested in Russia, but never heard much about Chechnya, aside from the fact that I knew there was a war there at one time, and it was in the North Caucus mountains.
She asked about simple things, what I cook for dinner, what music did I listen to, do I have children? I asked her the same questions, we found out we both liked the show Top Model, Mine was Americas next Top Model, hers was Russias next top model. Then we started sending photos back and forth, of simple things like our foods or the inside of our refrigerators lol, even our beauty products we used, we traded house cleaning tips and child care tips. I learned that she had three children, I sent her photos my one child. She was a stay at home mom, I worked outside the home. Ect.
One day I decided to send her a very short video, all it said was “Hi Anastasia! And I waved into the camera” I sent it and she got it, she was AMAZED!!! We then began sending little videos back and forth, tours of our houses, or kitchens or of us preparing food. We got to talking about religion one day and I found out that she was a Muslim; this shocked me, because ever since 911, the word Muslim struck a small amount of fear inside me. But she was different, she didn’t wear her hijab (head covering) wrapped tightly around her head and neck, she wore hers loosely and elegantly tied behind her neck.
Still showing bits of her pretty chestnut brown hair.
She told me why she loved being a Muslim, she showed me the rug she prayed on. I told her about my catholic background, and showed her my yoga mat (which obviously has nothing to do with Catholicism, but in a sense it IS my “prayer rug”) she showed me her prayer beads and I showed her my Mala beads.
We were similar but different.
We discussed religion at length and both came to the conclusion that all religions are just different interpretations of the same GOD. We sheepishly laughed at each other’s previous impression of the others religions, in my mind Muslim=Trouble she however felt that Americans probably ran through the streets naked and did a lot of drugs! LOl we were so wrong about each other in so many ways.
One day after months of messages photos and videos, I decided to try to call her on a video app called Tango. When the call finally connected and we saw each other’s faces…..well….I almost teared up at the look of excitement on her face, it was amazing to me that someone so many thousands of miles away in a completely different world than mine, was right there on my phone, staring me back in the face, all she could get out was a laugh and a high pitched “omg hi!!!!” she “showed me to her husband and introduced me and showed me her son, I showed her my husband and son.
At one point we had our boys, who are the same age, say hello on the camera to each other.
We shared so many things about our lives, she told me of the war, she sent me her writings about being hunkered down in an underground bunker with her siblings and very ill mother after their house was destroyed, she sent me her poems about survival and finding a will to live.
One night she sent me a haunting voice message, she was standing outside in her back yard, and you could hear shelling in the background, she said the sounds made her upset because it reminded her of war, she worried for her girls and her boy, she wanted a better place for them to live and grow. It was a very powerful moment that brought me to tears, because suddenly her pain was now mine, she brought her world to me in visions and sounds, she made me feel every joy and fear she had.
Over the years we became closer and closer, sometimes even putting on the same song and dancing with each other on video. She was there for me when I was upset and missing my mother who passed a few years prior, I was there for her when she was in labor with a child, and months later when she lost that same child. Each time one would fall we would pick the other one up. We forged a support system, built on videos, voice messages and the amazing World Wide Web.
Eventually I tried sending her a letter….it never made it…I tried again to send a small package, A head Scarf, she received it, and in turn sent me a delicate coffee mug, I sent her children clothes and she sent me perfume. I am quite sure our post offices were looking at us in disbelief as we picked up and delivered packages From Chechnya and the United States.
Sometimes our friend ship runs into a roadblock, for instance, her government has restricted the use of You Tube (so no more very long videos) and with the political tension between us and Russia currently, sending packages has proved tough, but we still make it work we still talk almost daily, send little videos back and forth and occasionally call each other.
She is one of my very best friends. And I love her.
I believe that GOD brings people into your life for a reason, and for some reason he brought her into mine. And it’s totally amazing to me that two people, in two very different worlds, from two totally different backgrounds can meet by chance. It goes to show you, that under all the political crap and religious clashing, we are all just humans looking for other humans to connect to, sitting on the couch, late at night playing around on Facebook.