Lysychansk, Luhansk region
It was the year I turned thirteen) (t.n. reference to the Shevchenko poem)
I remember the summer of 2014 only in separate moments. Due to my age, I did not feel the full danger of the situation. Plus my parents were responsible for my life then. Spending nights in the corridor and basement are forever imprinted in my brain’s cerebral cortex. I remember well when there was no electricity and we dragged electric generators out of my grandfather's garage to charge phones for at least some time. It's funny, on the morning of February 24, the first things I bought were cigarettes and alcohol - because I remembered well from 2014 that these are the most valuable goods during the war, which can be exchanged for anything.
Nothing unusual happened. I continued to live my teenage life, transferred to the Lysychansk gymnasium. Then I entered a university in Kyiv, worked hard, spent time with friends and met a person I love. I lived the life of an ordinary Kyiv girl. I planned to change my professional profile after university — I went to study to become a game designer, but, for obvious reasons, I couldn’t finish those studies.
I think right now it's pointless to say: "it was the scariest morning in my life" - it was like that for every Ukrainian. At seven in the morning, my neighbor and work colleague woke me up with the words: "Girls, get up - the war has begun." First of all, during the chaotic gathering of personal belongings, I called my parents, who managed to leave Lysychansk 2 days before the events. Oddly enough, I was calm, I think that's how my defense mechanism worked. First of all, I had to get to my boyfriend's apartment, and then I could cry. I was lucky that he and I lived nearby at the time, a walking distance..
When we entered the apartment, we just laid there for the first few hours, voiceless. We didn't cry, we didn't say anything - we were just silent. For the first three weeks, we did not leave Kyiv. Going to get groceries was a whole dangerous quest. Once, while standing in a line at the store, in front of my eyes, the TDF eliminated another saboteur. In the evening, something like this would happen: you go out to smoke on the shared balcony, and can hear automatic bursts from down below. The only warm memory of the entire time spent during the defense of Kyiv was a marriage proposal from my boyfriend, while we were sitting behind a guest room sofa during yet another shelling. After arriving in Lutsk for some time, we relaxed a bit: when I first ordered coffee and started drinking it, tears rolled down my face - I thought that I would never drink coffee like that again.
While I was in Lutsk, my relatives from the USA organized a charity exhibition of my paintings in Los Angeles, where they collected money for our military. Now I am back in Kyiv, my boyfriend and I are working. Everything seems almost the same as during peacetime, but no, we are different now. Every time I take a shower or fall asleep, I can't stop thinking about the war, about the people in Mariupol, Bucha, and my native Lysychansk. Every day I convulsively read the news, searching for my apartment among the photos of destroyed buildings.
How did you experience war in 2014? What do you remember from that time? How old were you? How did 2014-2015 go for you? Please tell this story in detail.
"Where were you these 8 years?". How has this time passed for you, what changed in your life since the events of 2014? What has influenced you the most during this time? Please write in detail.
What was February 24, 2022 for you like? Did you believe that a full-scale offensive would begin? Where are you now? What do you do? What do you think about your future now?