Music:the TV in the living room, and Sis's cellphone beeping
By the time I was old enough to realize that Russia was the Enemy, the iron curtain was down. It was quietly fading away for some time before that, from what my household felt like, and we were, after all, neighbors. I was very small, reading East of the Sun, West of the Moon (even the naughty stories in the back that kids were explicitly told not to read) and the books of Russian fairy tales. Ivan Tsarvitch and Marya Tsarvena were Russian. Baba Yaga was kind of scary, and so was her house. Actually, her house was scarier, because it was smart. AIDS was scarier on the news, even though I thought it was weird -- we were always giving aid to countries that needed help, why was more than one aid a bad thing? Eventually I figured out it was a disease that was killing people. Part of the AIDS quilt came to Fairbanks. I walked around looking at it and cried and wrote a short essay on a tiny notepad because I was going to be a writer.
My father went and visited Russia. He sent a telegram back saying that he was doing fine. He phrased it succinctly, of course, and Mama knew it was really him because of the way he phrased it. When he came back, he said that actually he hadn't really been thinking about it like that, but it was good that it reassured him, and next time, he was bringing his own tea for the water, because the only way to make sure it was boiled was to have tea, and when he asked for just plain boiled water, the hosts would make tea, and tea is expensive.
As an aerospace scientist working on computer programs studying the aurora borealis and a number of other things, he wound up talking with his counterparts all around the pole. That was how he came to have friends over there. Some of them came and visited us. He gave his little portable Compaq to Mr. G, as I recall.