Saturday, January 31, 2004


Ok. I have bogged the Polish/ English version of the “Reactions” essay today. I have two more, which I will put up over the next few days. I think I am doing this is only to make a clear picture of the whole of the court process. When the case was going on, I did all I could to get what I was trying to say through to the courts, but at least officially, as you can read in the “justification for the courts decision”, they simply refused to listen. And this is the point of all of this. You can check out that essay by clicking on the above links. And I guess I should remind you that there is a new mailing address at

And so here is today’s musing…

Saturday Morning.
I just got finished yelling at the kid. It is hard to describe the family situation we are in. When I came here and I found Tatyana, though one could understand that I might have gotten a bit more attention because of my being an American, all that was asked for from me, was the romance and the attention. No one asked me to give money. It was all simply a romance between a man and a woman. I think that that is what made me go for it really. That, and that the “style” and the place was very satisfying to me as well.
But she did have a boy. And to be honest, at first, I am not sure that I was so quick to think of the boy in a paternal way. In fact, I remember that I was somewhat aloof from him. He seemed to have his systems together and was getting long quite well without my presence. I simply didn’t get very deep with him and kept the relationship at a distance. I mean we played chess together- his ability to win making the games very interesting and competitive. But I was not the father.
But then Poland happened and my situation in Poland really did a lot to disrupt family life. It brought a great deal of stress to Tatyana’s life and this of course transferred to the boy who responded by giving up in school. And of course there were all of the times Tatyana came to Poland to be with me; abandonment being a very real thing to a then seven-year-old.
So when I came back, I made inroads to try and give the boy some time, to try and be the dad that the kid is missing. This was not easy to do. First there was the language barrier, which when it really is important is a very big deal. And then there was the tentative nature of my time here both because of visa’s and because the situation in Poland would never settle. And of course, I was always paranoid about money.
But what really made all of this harder was that I was not a “normal” dad for him to emulate because I was lacking real work to do. There was no bike shop for him to hang out at, learning the bikes and seeing how we make a business. I was not being a “real” writer, because there were no checks coming from my work. I mean there was some money that came in, and this money was more than normal wages, but where it came from was abstract as far as the boy was concerned. The boy simply could not see what was going on in any such a way as to help him understand my connection to the world, and so consequently, he had no format with which he could see potential roads for his own life. Or to state it simply: None of this made any sense to him.
Well the boy is eight now. The language barrier is still there, but I find that we communicate quite well. I have even found that it is possible for me to help him, not only with his Russian homework (and I can do his word problems in math as well) but also in Belarussian! And his running has become such that he can go like a machine for a really long time, and when he wants, or if there is a race he believes in, he can jet a little too. And he still beats me about half the time in chess.
But what I can’t do, even to this day, is to give him a life to believe in. I have taught him some things about writing, and I have shown him a few things about bikes, but I am still not real here. And what is more, that it has been this way for almost the whole time I have been here, he has come to know me in this way. And in the end, the results are that sometimes, he simply gives up and doesn’t care. I mean, we all need to trust in order to do our best. We have to have a contract to agree on, a vested interest in that what we are doing makes sense to our lives and to the lives of those we love. Without that trust, there is simply nothing.
So what can I do? Even to this day, I do not know if I can stay. Poland, for all of the thousands and thousands of words I have given them, for the hundreds and hundreds of hours of work, still refuses to face the reality that their cop attacked a biker on the street and then lied about it to try and steal some undeserved money from him. A book, a website, two years of my life spent doing nothing but pressing their deaf ears.
And my credit with people is damaged. And I am now a liar for not having delivered on promises made. And the money is gone and not returning…
All I see are the tears in people’s eyes from this. All I see is the endless poverty and hopelessness. But insofar as why I am now crippled from doing anything, I simply do not see where I have done anything wrong. I am not a criminal. But yet, everybody seems to want to keep this game going on and on and on and on…
And so I have no voice with this boy. I have no voice simply because he cannot trust that I will be there for him. This has nothing to do with whether or not I want to be with him. It has to do with whether or not I can; if there is enough money, if it is legal for me to do so.
And I want to make it clear: I would stay. Happily.
I am not a romantic young man, and I wasn’t when I came here two years ago. Well, I still some desire for romance, but it is not such that perhaps we think of how a twenty-year-old might be romantic. I think that I would have stopped this all before I got in too deep if I thought that there would be no chance to be here, to make the bike shop, to make the play, to do what I said I would do. I know that I never would have promised anything to the guys at the bike club or to the people of Pinsk if I thought I didn’t have the money to make my little shop or put on my “Russian language play”. I wouldn’t have lied to them. I wasn’t looking for a party, After I met Tatyana, all I was looking for was to make an investment in a place that no one else was investing in. I had seen the place in happier days, and now they were down. I wanted to help. And this was not from a bleeding heart; I felt I was investing in my own home, in my grandmother’s home, in My own life and happiness. I thought that what I was doing would bring some hope and happiness to the place and in that happiness would be my “deal”. I mean, I just sell bikes and biking; I don’t see anything bad in this.
But we are all crying here every day. All of us. I blame myself for this. I do not blame myself because I lost it one day in Poland because that is simply not what happened. I blame myself because where once I was accepted as being “svoi”, one of them, one of us, and a welcome and happy figure, now I am simply the cause of more pain. And this is torture for me.

I know why I am feeling like this. “The Postman” was on TV last night. You know this film? Kevin Costner is a wandering bum in a post-apocalyptic world. He makes a statement about the existence of a post office to a group of defeated people only because he thought it would bring them a little happiness. But when he finds he is held to this promise, he becomes an unwilling hero to them. They give him their trust and even though it is only a lie at first, he must become this person he said he was.
Well, this is not my story. I really was a bike guy and I really did write plays. I never said anything to anybody I didn’t think I could back up. But I can relate. I can relate.
My choices of what I have to do in the near future are all pretty crappy. There is nothing soft or easy for me waiting anywhere. There have been endless chances for this to have been settled well, but it never has been.
And yet through all of this, I am still only the guy sitting at the breakfast table trying to get through to a little boy that he has to do his work. I am asking him to believe me in that what I want from him and what I am telling him about the world is true; be a sportsman, be smart, do your work, do the right thing. I am not asking the boy to look up at me, just to start learning to be a good man in the world, a good person. Nothing more. It’s a simple idea.
Now I just have to figure out a way to get him to believe me again.