I am sitting at the Aeroporte di Roma waiting to board a plane for my flight home, while memories of another airport and another home in another era are flooding over me.
40 years ago, on this very day, I was sitting at the airport in Leningrad; a lone stateless waif, persona non grata, with $110 to my name, 2 suitcases in my luggage, and my main emotion – fear. Fear that at the last minute, I will not be allowed to leave. Fear of the unknown, of what lies beyond the iron curtain, of what is in store for me. Fear to leave behind the only home I knew and loved. Fear that I may never love another home.
Later in the day, in the transit compound on the outskirts of Vienna, where the Soviet repatriates to Israel were kept behind high stone walls topped with barbed wire to protect us from Palestinian terrorists who recently murdered a busload of such repatriates, I walked out into the yard and bawled my heart out.
I thought I made the worst mistake of my life.
Today, I celebrate this day as my second birthday.


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