When a person chooses to follow his own laws, I guess, he often gets punished.
In the three days it had taken me to travel illegally from the Caucasus Mountains in Russia to the eastern limit of Slovakia, I paid $170 in fines. This left me with only fifteen dollars.
That was enough, though, thanks to good luck hitchhiking, to get me through mystical, eastern Slovakia and into the Czech Republic. It was February 1st when I arrived in small-town Rymarov. This year, in the hazy, sunny hills surrounding Rymarov, there was oddly almost no snow.
It was a little disappointing. Even so, the winter is a good time to be in Rymarov, my adopted "second home".
You know what? I'm not fully convinced it's possible to have more than one home. Is it? Maybe we all have either one home or none.
I began borrowing money from my parents in Michigan, and I hung out in Rymarov during February. Friends and I dressed up and went to balls and danced. We played in the town's winter basketball league. We saw one of the country's creative rock bands in concert. I visited nearby Russian friends, who said they were amazed I'd escaped imprisonment in their country.
Yep; my trip to Siberia, though a huge success, had also been so difficult and, at times, unhappy that it stole my vitality.
I observed the people in Rymarov, people who also did things that stole their vitality. They drank together, smoked cigarettes, and smoked marijuana. Upon first glance, I wouldn't say that most Rymarovers are strong.
But, then again, is it necessary or even desireable to be strong? Not long ago, I'd been writing a letter to my grandparents, and I began to think of who my favorite people are, and I wrote the list of my 10 Favorite People. The ten friends and relatives who made the list all have some weakness in their lively, visible hearts. Most are sentimentally sad, at least a bit, when I'm not around.
In contrast, I know one Russian women and several American guys who, in the way that I logically believe people should be, almost never get emotionally attached to relationships. They're strong. And yet, they didn't make my list.
I, myself, have once been told that I seem to not have feelings. I'm surprised that I haven't been told this more often. But, it is largely due to a sentimental attachment to my Grandpa Breen, among other people, that I've never managed to stay away from Michigan for more than a year. A person who feels no sentimental attachment would probably be completely unlikeable.
The point is that I began to think that the people in Rymarov are very lucky and happy. I might have decided to stay and teach there now, except that there aren't any good nightclubs nor many freedom-loving girls there. There is, however, a growing trend where males and females kiss on the mouth while greeting.
So, I borrowed more money and bought myself a flight to the States.
On Saturday, February 23rd, my last night in Rymarov, I went to meet people in the dark-purple V Club.
I found one of those people. Let's call her, "Vika".
Up until this night, I wouldn't have considered her to be my favorite girl in the world. But, for most of the two-and-a-half years I've known her, I'd have said she's the most beautiful.
She's now seventeen. Her dark hair was pulled behind her white, soft face in a forest. At times, in my journal, I've described her bushy eyelashes and black pupils as "weak and unsure", "sad", "intelligent", "unconfident", and "gorgeous".
In the past few years, I've been most attracted to women whom I'm call "strong", women who can lead me sometimes. It may sound unfair, or even horrible, but girls who seem capable of needing me sometimes strike me as "not strong".
But, maybe there is a third type of girl?
On this night, Vika showed me that she needed someone. She said, sadly, that she always feels bad when she's alone.
And yet, in a lot of ways, she certainly isn't weak. She always stands tall and puts her face right in front of mine when she talks to me. When I'd found her this night, we were on a stairway, and she stood on the step above me in a dark t-shirt, and put her arm lightly around me. I lightly touched her back. Being so close, her beauty stunned me. I felt weak. I like being stunned.
For the first time in our friendship ridden with nervousness and misunderstanding, I was mature enough to "popovidat" (tell about myself) openly. She responded with an eagerly equal openness; laughter, in spite of her recent sadness; and comfort with sitting close to me.
I told that I have anti-sex, anti-monogamy viewpoints. She, the veteran of a two-year, monogamous relationship with an older boy, which had just ended, spoke, sure of herself. She said many boys think sex is the most important thing in a relationship. She said sex is fine, but a relationship must progress in steps. I said I'm not sure if my philosophies and ambitions are steering me in the right place.
Vika seemed relieved to hear I have personal doubts. If she is, in fact, intelligent, it may be the result of having a sometimes-difficult family life.
She was, it seemed, the type of girl who needs you and isn't ashamed that she needs you. A gentle guy and such a girl might have their arms around and kiss each other for hours daily. During this brief night of intimate conversation, I felt a wonderful feeling, a feeling better than any I'd had in Siberia, a feeling that seemed to say, "Who needs logic, anyway?"
After three a.m., we left the club. She walked me through the quiet town and fresh air to my friend's house. We held each other for a long time, and her pale-red lips kissed me good night. She left.
I was happy.
But, I was also sad, for her, and for me, that I had to leave Rymarov the next day.
I was on my way to Michigan. And I probably wouldn't be back in Rymarov until June. A lot of things can happen during that time.
I have a feeling they'll mostly be good things.
peace. Modern Oddyseus.
"The whole truth is that love, pride, passion, and ambition are such great and foolish things, that every victim is heroic, and that human creatures in love are something beautiful and astounding." - Karel Capek, a Czech writer
Thanks to a Slovakian; Kott; Jano; Marek; and three Czechs for rides!
Much thanks to Jana, Brano, Helena, Jano, & "Rikky"; Klara Sigmundova; Albina, Igor, Niki, & Katka; and Libor & his parents for places to sleep!
And thank you for reading about my trip to Siberia!