This hood reminds me of my dreams of the cold winters in Belarus, where my friends Irina and Olga live. We met in Vilnius a few years ago when we were all studying Lithuanian and we hit it off and have stayed in touch off and on, getting together when I visit Eastern Europe and chatting online once in a while between trips. I’ve never gotten to visit Belarus because it’s not in the European Union and Americans need a visa to visit, and these visas are not inexpensive or easy to obtain.
I’ll never forget the day in class when our teacher asked us to say something about the nationality of our class partners and my partner said, “Americans are free.” This is something that we take for granted all too often. Although we are not the only nation on the planet with this blessing of freedom, we never have to think about getting permission to leave our country and travel abroad, to vote for whomever we choose, and to criticize our government in speech or writing, in print or online, whenever we disagree with its policies.
My friend’s mother is an accomplished beader, and she made me an amazingly detailed beaded egg, which is now one of my prized possessions. As a small note of gratitude, I made the original version of this hood for her. This design is a wish of warmth and comfort, as well as a future with freedom, to my friends and their friends and families in Belarus.