Women is...: A Wind Untamed

A Wind Untamed

very morning, it dealt with crowds which stormed an arriving bus. It was difficultly to find job in its profession in it little city, so that it had to replace regional the capital.

The return commute was also tough; the winning strategy was to sneak on to the bus shielded by someone else’s broad back. If for some reason that did not work, she could always stick out her hand holding the briefcase and let the crowd suck her in to the bus’s warm womb. The only tricky part was not letting go of the case. Right now commuting seemed like a bad dream. She had a week’s vacation ahead of her, and she didn’t care that it was unpaid. The knocking of train wheels, usually grating, sounded to her like a hymn to a new life. She was traveling not to relax, not to shop, not to worship at cultural shrines. Her trip was an attempt to change her fate. An attempt to stop retailing her brains for pocket change. An attempt to leave behind a city whose dark windy streets were filled with unhappy people who did not know how to smile, a place where one could plan no further than tomorrow, where life was full of uncertainty and fear. In that city her peers never dreamed of having children because they could not imagine how they would be able to provide for them. So they didn’t want them. What did they want? Quick sex enjoyed strictly within the limits of easy friendship, free of any obligations.

Jeff H., a promising financial analyst from sunny Oklahoma, wanted to have kids. He wanted them to grow up bilingual. He assumed his Russian was fairly good because he had worked for three years in St. Petersburg. In his first letter he wrote about his love for the city and his desire to marry a Russian woman.

“He looks like Chip and Dale rolled into one,” she thought when examining his picture. Apart from this odd love for Russia, Jeff seemed to her a typical American, pragmatic and businesslike. This impression clashed with his stated hobby. “I love adventure,” he wrote. “I love new people, new countries. I love discovering new things since I easily get bored.”

“It seems that I am to become his new adventure. . . .” They agreed to meet at the entrance to the Nevsky Prospekt metro station.

The hands of the clock were steadily crawling towards five. The hurrying crowds flowed indifferently around a man who stood by the metro wearing a gray coat, which seemed too light for the St. Petersburg winter. The man kept checking his watch. He left when the evening light drained down into the Neva River and the pink brush of sunset touched the green wintry sky. Several days later, he found her email in his in-box.

“Thank you for having come. When I was traveling to Saint Petersburg, I thought that only a few steps separated me from a happy future. Forgive me, but I did not dare approach you. I saw your eyes, and it seemed to me they were looking for someone extraordinary. There is nothing exceptional about me! The picture that I sent you looks better than I do in real life; it happens sometimes. In the picture, I look like a tender, shy Russian girl in whose eyes froze a dream of a tranquil life with a comfortable home, lovely children, and a solid husband who can take care of his family. I’m sure you are tired of the triumphant smiles of American ladies, who are too strong to need anybody. I could become your wife. But for that I would have to bury my true self. It seemed to me that you were seeking someone timid and dependent. I might have appeared timid and dependent in my letters to you, yet I am strong. I was afraid that I couldn’t fulfill the western idea of the patient, agreeable Russian woman. I was afraid that you wouldn’t like me. I don’t want to deceive you from the beginning. Yes, I am tired of this boring, gray life and I want comfort, warmth, a family. But marriage without love is impossible for me. My ethics prohibit me from giving up my freedom in exchange for your sponsorship. When I saw you, you seemed so lonely, as if you had lost hope forever. Sweet sadness poisoned my joy then. It was like a dream that did not come true. It was like the wind that could not be tamed.”

For the rest of the day, she wandered aimlessly up and down Nevsky Prospekt, trying not to think about the man in a gray coat waiting for her in vain at the entrance to the metro. The air rang with freedom and abandon.

“Some fashionable writer once said that Saint Petersburg can only be loved. There’s nothing to do here but love, he said. So I’ll love. I will love all its different guises: the wet and windy city of the winter, the dusty and humid city of the summer. At least this love will be reciprocated.”

The white flames of a January day are put out by the black ink of the night. The late moon hangs in the pale sky like a round of moldy cheese. Its light pours through the window and fills the room. The silence, held captive by four walls, seems sinister and mysterious.

The woman sleeps. She dreams of a city washed by the spring rain, of asphalt turned blue with puddles, of constellations of streets awakened by the chattering birds. The sun’s rays are dancing on the fierce green leaves and on the dazzling gold cupolas of Saint Isaac’s. She smiles in her sleep.

“It’s time to learn to live in the now. Time to trust that tomorrow will come without fail, and then everything will begin anew.”