25 Years in the USA III
Editor’s note: This is the third and last part of the 25th anniversary mini-series “25 Years in the USA.” I published the first part on Dec. 22 on the exact date of the anniversary of our arrival to the country. I published the third part on Jan. 9th.
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Lowell, MI- While working the second shift at Meijer, I wrote the most short stories in the morning. People working at the store inspired me.
My husband Ludek and I started looking for land to build a house in 1994. We found Lowell, a small town in West Michigan. And as we drove past the old Parnell store in the middle of nowhere, I knew I was going to like it here.
“This is it,” Ludek said as he showed me the land. He built the house himself with a few contractors.
Once we had the house, I started feeling more at home. I got us two dogs. On top of the job at the store, I started selling real estate for Westdale. That was a unique experience where I met my business guru late Larry Combs.
“How many sales phone calls did you make today?” he asked.
I lied when I said 50. I actually made more like seven or 10.
“Call whenever you can even if you’re waiting for food in a restaurant,” he advised. “I want to write a book “My friend Emma.”
Larry never wrote the book. He got Parkinson’s disease and shot himself.
I was homesick and every Christmas drove to the Gerald Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids to watch the planes take off.
I was still writing for American Lists, former Czechoslovak Newsweek based in New York City out of nostalgia. I was writing in Czech. The paper does not exist anymore.
The first time I went back to Czech Republic was in 2000, and that was a mistake. It brought back memories and old friends even though it was a different country than the one I had left.
I vowed never to go back again.
“Never say never,” told me the store manager.
During my five-year long stint with the Ionia Sentinel-Standard, I finished my first book “Fire on Water” about the communist experience in 2001. Because as they say, “There are three big experiences in this world: communist, capitalist and catholic. I lived them all.
I dropped the store and real estate and commuted daily 80 miles one way to Plainwell to first paid journalism job for Kaechele Publications. It was a one man office with zero training. But, the editor was an avid photographer and taught me how to shoot.
“Don’t go into a shoot with a mindset,” he said. “Keep your options open.”
Since, 2000 I went back home three times.
“Why do you still call it home?” asked my daughter Emma. “You have lived longer in the USA than in Czech.”
Yes, I will always call it home. That’s where I was born, got married, graduated from Technical University of Brno and had our two children.
And that’s just the tip of an iceberg. I am now penning our family immigration story in “Greenwich Meridian where East meets west.”
It’s like reliving all those years since 1968 when the former Soviet Army occupied Czechoslovakia. Sometimes I struggle with it, sometimes I cry, and sometimes I laugh. Just like in life.
About the featured photo: Ice sculptures in hometown Lowell, Michigan 2014
Copyright © Emma Blogs LLC, All rights reserved