Cheer up and smile.
Your Perception IS Your Reality
Everything is relative ….
What did you see today?
‘Dream is not that which you see while sleeping, it is something that does not let you sleep.’
Dr. Abdul Kalam
From The Sky is Awake
What dreams keep you awake?
“Gosh, don’t tell me it ‘s Chanel N°5”, Victoria wrinkled her nose.
“What’s wrong with Unleaded 91?” – I gave her a wink.
“And look at your face. Is that your new makeup?”
“Ivan does not mind it. In fact, that’s the only ‘makeup’ he is OK with,” I giggled inspecting my dirty snout in the car mirror.
Ivan hated seeing me with my makeup on. “Why do you need to put all this stuff on your face to make yourself look like a painted doll?”, he used to say every time he would spot lipstick or any other makeup on my face. “You are beautiful just the way you are. Why can’t you simply be yourself?”…
“Give us a few minutes to finish with the car and we’ll be ready to go,” said Ivan, poking his snout out.
“Gosh, you both look like twins now,” giggled Victoria.
I always enjoyed hanging around when Ivan was fixing his car, moped or various stuff around his or mine flat. He was good at fixing stuff. I was not much of a help, but he did seem to enjoy my company. We could chat about all sorts of things, or enjoy silence. No silly questions, no pressure. Everything was so simple with Ivan. If something rattled me, he always knew how to make me feel better.
Victoria got cheap tickets to ‘Swan Lake’. We both enjoyed ballet. Luckily, St Petersburg had some of the best ballet theaters in the world. Ivan and Alex were not particularly into ballet, but they were OK to go with us and get us safely back home. The streets of St Petersburg were not very safe at night time. No sensible girls ventured out on their own in the dark.
The ballet finished after 10 pm and we happily trotted back to the car. Ivan was driving, while Victoria and I were giggling and chatting on the back seats. There was not much traffic and hardly any people on the streets. Suddenly a car swirled towards us, almost forcing us off the road.
“Duck down,” shouted Ivan, accelerating .
“It looks like we got mistaken for a rival escort service by the local brutes who are ‘manning’ this district. Two lads on the front seats, two girls at the back – typical escort services set up.”
“But we surely don’t look like that sort of girls,” objected Victoria.
“Duck down, Victoria. I doubt they will bother looking at us, if they get us,” I whispered, forcing her down.
“What will happen to us then?” whispered Victoria.
“Have you watched “The Rifleman of the Voroshilov Regiment”? If we are lucky, it won’t go further than a bit of Kama Sutra. If those brutes share Marquis de Sade’s views on the pleasures of pain however – then the outcome for us will be much worse. I’m more worried about our lads though – for them it might be all over much quicker and simpler, with a higher chance of a fatal outcome. Now duck down and stay quiet, please. We don’t know what kind of weapons these brutes might have.”
Though in Russia it was illegal to own a handgun privately, criminals did not seem to have any issues with obtaining all sorts of guns, including automatic ones. Knives, axes and other weapons were commonly used as well.
From Gun Violence
It was the fastest car ride in my life. That was the only time I ever prayed, though I was never particularly religious. Luckily, we managed to get away and drove straight to Victoria’s house.
“Is there any chance we could stay overnight at your place?” I asked Victoria. “Don’t feel like driving anymore tonight. We are fine with sleeping on the floor if you have no spare beds.”
“Sure. I’ll talk to my mum. I’m sure she won’t mind.”
Victoria lived in a two-room apartment with her mum. We stayed there a few times before – boys in one room, girls in the other. Her mum was OK with that.
“Gosh, these escort services must be a very scary business,” whispered Victoria once we settled in our room.
“You reckon. Ambulance services are as scary these days. Do you remember my school friend Lucy? She is studying to be a doctor. She had a stint with paramedics as part of her training – the scariest experience she ever had. What do you think such brutes do when they want a free girl? Call an ambulance. With 99% of paramedics being female, these brutes have a good chance of getting a female for fun. Thanks goodness, the male drivers in that ambulance unit were very good. They would keep female paramedics in the ambulance until the males check that the call is genuine and the specified address is safe.”
“My God, that’s awful”.
“Talking about Lucy, I wanted to give her a call to check that magic stuff advertised in the pharmacies. It is claimed to provide emergency contraception as well as protection against all sexually transmitted diseases. Sounds too good to be true. Thought she might know whether these claims can be trusted. Let’s go to sleep now – tomorrow is another day and … please, no more ballet this month…”
As Jill Brooke points out, the words “Till Death Do Us Part” have defined how we look at marriage for generations. But in fact, they are five of the most polarizing words. “Why?” you may ask. Because if you look at the stats, almost 50 percent of you may not stay married to the person you are lovingly gazing at. Instead, there is a possibility you may get tangled in a divorce.
Don’t you think it is unrealistic to have the expectation that love will flourish for a lifetime that now runs into our 80’s and 90’s? We’re living longer than generations before us did, and “till death do us part” could mean 60 or even 70 years together instead of 20 or 30 years. It is very hard to fulfill that promise, till death to us part, for such a long time.
When a marriage lasts decades, it’s a gift, but no longer the norm. However, when people break up because they have had the expectation of forever, deep inside they feel like they failed. Why do we focus on failure rather than acknowledging and celebrating the decades of success?
As Jill Brooke points out, it’s time to say what a success these marriages were for lasting as long as they did and accumulating memories and milestones.
Just because you’re divorced doesn’t mean that you and your ex don’t have a relationship. It just means that it’s changed. You won’t stay married, but you will always be parents to your children. You will always carry your histories.
Stephanie Coontz, one of the great sages and scholars of relationships and the author of Marriage, A History, points out that “by having high expectations that marriage should last, we may work harder,” she said. “But studies have also shown that those people who have the strongest sense that marriage is sanctified and should last forever are most likely to see it as a failure and betrayal and have more anger and disappointment.”
For Jill Brooke, second marriage has now lasted 15 years. “Till Death Do Us Part” were not in the vows. Why has this marriage worked? “Luck, compatibility, a commitment to family and each other,”she writes, “One big reason is that I don’t feel entitled, I feel grateful. That has helped me manage expectations and not take anything for granted, which I believe is essential for long term marriages to stay alive and thrive.”
So may be, as proposed by Vicki Larson, instead of wringing our hands about so-called gray divorces and seeing those long-term marriages as failures, perhaps we should consider marriage as more “till the kids part” than “till death do us part.” The partner we need in our 20s and 30s, when many of us are looking to settle down and raise kids, may not be the partner we need in our 50s, 60s and beyond, when we’re free to explore new passions or reinvigorate the ones we gave up when the kids came along.
Can’t we just be honest about that and move on?