Who is Val, really?
Ever since we met in person I have wondered
In my previous articles in this series, I told you about my friend, Val. Val was a citizen of the Soviet Union, and after the USSR dissolved, he was a citizen of Russia. I first Met Val through Ham Radio, we contacted each other over the radio, and our friendship developed to the point where we talked daily. After some time, Val visited the USA, and we spent a day together.
Even Great Events in our Lives come with Questions
After Val visited me in the USA and I had time to reflect on it I had some questions. I still have those questions, never really got clarity or an answer.
It has been years since I have thought about those questions, but after recently thinking more about my relationship with Val, the meeting, and such, those questions returned to me.
Soviet Citizens could not just travel
the Soviet Union was a closed society. “Regular” Citizens could not just hop on an airplane and go visit the USA. Perhaps some could make trips to other Soviet-bloc countries, but I think that only “special” people could even do that. Going to places like the USA was, in my feeling, reserved only for “important” people from the USSR. If I am wrong, and you are more knowledgeable than I am on this, please let me know.
As I recall, even traveling from one part of the USSR to another area within the country meant you needed to have “papers” with you that gave you permission to make such a trip even within the country.
What do I know about Val?
This was all a long time ago, and memories fade, but it is my recollection that Val worked at a factory that made tractors. I believe that Val told me that he was an engineer at the factory. That would kind of make sense, because Val was a ham radio operator, and an engineer would seemingly be into that kind of technical hobby.
Val had a nice radio setup, it is not something that would have been affordable for the average Soviet citizen from the information that I have.
So, how did Val come to the USA?
This is what I wondered. I suppose that it would be possible that he was part of some sort of cultural exchange program that was sponsored by the government. I know that groups of Americans would go to the USSR, and groups of Soviets would come to the USA on these kinds of exchanges so that people from both sides could learn about the other country, know the people, etc. I also know that Val was traveling with a group of people from his country who were coming to see the USA, so such an exchange would make sense. However, I have no direct knowledge of Val being part of such an exchange.
Another possibility is that Val was a member (with some rank) of the Community Party. Those kinds of people got more perks and opportunities. Perhaps he was sent here to see if he could learn things that would be helpful to the Party?
When I knew Val in the past, as I said in another article, Val lived in the Ural Mountains of the USSR. Based on his Facebook page, he now lives in Moscow.
These are questions that went through my mind for many years. The questions faded over time, but have resurfaced recently with my recollection of the events.\
My current feelings toward Val
So, you may be asking what I would think about it if Val were a Party member and came here to watch and learn things.
Personally, I don’t feel angry at Val based on the questions that I have. I don’t think that he was “spying” for national secrets or anything. My contact with Val was a personal interaction between people who lived in very different circumstances. I was never part of the military, nor did I have any kind of access to secret information about our country. So, I don’t feel any concerns about my friendship with Val. I don’t feel I told him things that he should not have known because I had no access to those types of information.
My feelings for Val are, and always have been, friendship. Exchange of caring for each other in a way that might bring goodwill between the two countries. That simple, nothing complicated.
Will I ever meet Val again?
I would say it is unlikely that Val and I will ever meet in person again. But, who knows? How likely is it that we would have met each other and shared a friendship in the 1980s and early 90s? That was pretty unlikely.
I am reaching out to Val right now trying to reestablish contact with him. I found him on Facebook and sent a friend request, but he is pretty inactive on Facebook. I do know of one other way that I could contact Val, and I will be doing that soon. It would involve mailing him a letter (I know a way to get his mailing address), so that could take some time for the snail mail to reach him, and his reply to reach me. But, I hope that we will get back in touch.
My dream would be that we would reestablish communication and that I would travel to Russia for a reunion. I enjoy travel, and I feel that such a trip would be very interesting, and having a friend there would make it even more enjoyable.