“I don’t see how your outlook can be helpful,” a lovely creature was texting me last night.
And I could do nothing better than to talk to her, but I was en route home — back to my sanctuary; a tired, little girl running away from the Big Bad Wolf — because I had my weekly long-distance call to make: to Motha Russia!
For over a year now, I’ve made this call, every weekend: To my old man. I say “old”, because I assume he is such, my comrades. But truth be told, I haven’t seen my father in nearly fifteen years. Yes: As others’, my family has had many tragedies; but this is the one — he and I have shared.
History does that: It makes peg pieces out of people, moving them all around the world or taking them off the board entirely, as if a part of some sick master plan carried out by a player smarter than the rest. A sly genius with a brutal vision.
I often wonder about my father’s memory — of his time and the way history presented itself to him, so obviously unkindly. Although we’ve both lost our country to a collapsed ideology, followed by chaos, then a slew of changed regimes and a massive emigration (to which I ended up belonging), my old man’s lot had to be heavier to the millionth degree: Because besides losing a county he’d spent four decades serving, he was losing his only child.
History does that.
Back then, in a reckless way to which most young are prone, I departed from Motha Russia with a courageous commitment to never look back. And I didn’t. Instead, I strained my eyes at the new horizon: I had my whole life in front of me, my comrades, based in a whole new country; and however tumultuous or exciting — it was mine! It was all about ME: I was building this thing! I was the one in charge! It would take me a decade to build that life, while becoming the person my father had wanted me to be (but would not get to witness, still). It would take a decade of hardships typical for any adulthood to eventually begin empathizing with my father’s lot. But not until my own consideration of motherhood would I decide to reconnect with him.
In that first phone call over a year ago, my old man was so silent, I continued to question our phone connection. Fuckin’ Russia!
“P: Are you there?!” I kept repeating.
“Yes, yes, yes… Forgive me. Forgive me.”
And then, we’d go back to silence.
I realized: Silence — was the sound of my old man’s crying. An Alpha to the core, he had never cried in front of me, but once: On the day of my departure. So, words would fail us that day. So would the connection, several times: Fuckin’ Russia!
But in between the silence, and my committed redialing of the operator, my old man would continue to say:
“Forgive me. Forgive me.”
As if it were all his fault, the way life had played us. As if the loss of connection — throughout our lives and that evening — were his responsibility to bear; because he was the adult, after all. But what he didn’t know was that I too had learned the burdens of adulthood, which I was by now willing to share. As far as I could see, between us: Forgiveness was unnecessary. Love — was.
So, it’s not that my last night’s chat with the lovely creature was unappreciated: I have adored her for years. But as we had witnessed each other’s recent love affairs go to shit due to the lapses of our men’s courage, our endless pontifications on their reasons, and feelings, and intensions — blah, blah, fuckin’ blah! — were beginning to feel gratuitous. Why were we giving these guys so much benefit of the doubt? Why were we wasting our loves on men who didn’t even want it?
So, I wrapped it up, perhaps clumsily and rushed (because last night, I was a tired, little girl, running away from the Big Bad Wolf):
“A person in love will do everything possible to be with his beloved. My guy — was NOT in love with me.”
To my lovely, my conclusion had to seem brutal.
“I don’t see how your outlook can be helpful,” she said.
I dared to forget that she too was suffering. Forgive me. Forgive me. So, I attempted to decoy the whole thing with a self-deprecating joke:
“I’m Russian: I’m used to tough love.”
The joke didn’t work. I lost her.
But this morning, post the conversation with my old man, I have to reconsider the pattern of my rushed departures: If I am not loved — I leave. I burn bridges. Seemingly recklessly, I impose change with my departures — onto the lives of others and myself — and cope with the consequences later. But what I don’t do — is wait around for a man’s change of heart.
My lovely of last night was not the first to accuse me of brutality of my choices. I’m tough, she says; “so strong!” But to me, love — is a matter of black-and-white, really: It is a privilege that cannot be wasted.
Too hard was my lesson with my old man, my comrades: No matter the turmoil of history or life, you do NOT take your beloveds for granted. Because there is way too much unpredictability in life. Too much chaos and pain. And to forsaken a love — is a choice I can no longer afford.
Thankfully, my old man was on the same page last night:
“Run: He is not in love you,” he said. “Run — for your life!”
And so, I did: A tired, little girl running away from the Big Bad Wolf.