The Boots are Made for Changing New Lives

Victoria Shulga


In black rain boots embellished with bright flowers, Victoria Shulga walks the drizzly streets of Azov, Russia thinking about the future. What will Canada be like for her and her children? She remembers her daughter’s first steps. The baby fell then laughed, delighted at her newfound freedom.  Suddenly, when she looks at her boots, they are not black anymore. All she sees is the flowers, bright with promise.


I am wandering around my cozy little hometown of Azov in Russia. It’s November, a weekday morning, and only a few people are on the streets. 

I inhale the thick, cool air deeply. It’s so sweet and smells of herbs, apples and wet moss. The trees are almost bare. The leaves rustle gently under my feet as I shuffle through them. Even the drizzling rain is quiet. I am alone with my thoughts, trying not to break the silence I need so much. I have a decision to make. 

“We received a nomination from the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, and, most likely, we are going to Canada.” My husband’s words this morning stormed into my perfectly balanced life, the life I had so precisely and successfully planned out. 

“Weren’t we planning to move to Europe? You’ve been taking language courses for a whole year. I thought everything was decided! And now—Canada? It’s so far from here!” 

I look down and see that I’m walking through the puddles, tossing wet leaves with my feet without even paying attention. My new, fancy rain boots have arrived just in time for the season. They are black but embellished with a bright and elaborate floral pattern. And totally by coincidence, my boots have come from North America. 

I close my eyes for a moment and let myself become immersed in my thoughts. My head is full of questions about our future. Is it the right decision to move so far? How am I going to see my family? What if my kids won’t like their new home? My thoughts are as cloudy as the sky. 

How complicated everything is in this world, I think. The world has become so small, so close. With one click on the computer, and you can talk with your friends halfway around the world. Another click, you can order a pair of rubber boots, and a parcel is flown to you. One more click and you have a ticket to travel to another country. 

One by one, scenes from my life pop into my head. The images are blurry, but the memories are vivid and clear. Here is my daughter, taking her first uncertain steps in her soft leather moccasins with colourful embroidery. She falls, but instead of crying, she laughs and enjoys every moment of her courage! This entirely new feeling of freedom she hadn’t been familiar with makes her happy.  

Life is like a piggy bank—each coin is a memory, an emotion, or a thought. Some of these experiences we put into the bank carefully and thoughtfully, some recklessly, but we value every single memory. Sometimes those memories are released like a genie from a bottle by a scent, sound, or thoughts. 

I kick a pebble, and it splashes into a puddle with a gurgle. It sounds like joy to my ears. It wakes me from my thoughts. 

I stare at my boots and don’t see the black background anymore. All I see is the bright petals and the green stems wrapping around my feet. The red flowers almost glimmer in the fog, showing me my way. 

The decision comes by itself. 

These quality, comfortable boots cost me thirty dollars. But wearing them to go wherever I want is priceless. My boots don’t just protect my feet on rainy days. They have helped me make a life-changing decision. 

My colourful rain boots have travelled with me to many places and have found their new home here in Canada. I have, too.

VICTORIA SHULGA immigrated to Nova Scotia, Canada, in 2016 with her husband and three kids. Born in Azov, Russia, she graduated from Rostov State University with a bachelor’s degree in linguistics and has travelled a lot. She lives in Halifax, writes a blog about travelling and immigrating, works from home and plans to launch a few projects as an entrepreneur.

More Stories from Halifax 2020