Dream of the Immigrant

Since we moved to Madison earlier in the year, we’ve been renting a nice townhome about 15 minutes outside of the Capitol. While the units are well kept, our kitchen wood floor needed work so I called the complex’s maintenance department to repair it.

Marius knocked on my door this morning ready to repair the floor. In a disciplined but courteous manner, Marius went right to work. While focused on my computer screen, I sensed Marius to be a purposeful worker. Every tool was cleaned before being returned to the toolbox. The workspace was free of clutter and debris. While repair of the floor was not problematic, Marius inspected every detail of his labor – repeatedly.

When Marius began to collect his tools, we struck up a conversation. It was then that I saw him much differently. Marius is originally from Romania. Twelve years ago he left his country because communism wouldn’t allow him to practice his life’s passion in freedom. Marius wasn’t a carpenter, an electrician or handyman.

Marius is an operatic performer. A serious artist.

Marius was educated in some of Romania’s best opera schools by some of the world’s best music teachers. When he left Romania, Marius was just shy of earning his PhD in Music.

The transition to America has been challenging for Marius. He’s made several attempts to join opera houses in the United States but with no luck. Ultimately, he said with a smile, “I have to pay the bills so I do this…”

I was fascinated by Marius’ stories. He recounted his travels and performances throughout Romania. Marius’ eyes were aglow as he spoke about opera and his success. Opera is his life. And yet, here he was in my kitchen – fixing my floor.

Marius is not bitter. He holds no regrets. He’s a student of his craft – whether it’s carpentry or singing. He still performs. Occasionally, he sings outside his apartment building to the delight of his neighbors who, according to Marius, can hear his commanding voice from blocks away.

Despite his current challenges, Marius believes he will perform again. “One day,” he said with complete confidence, “you’ll see…”

I hope to – one day.