Friday, May 11, 2007

Knig shop girl...

In today's look back at the days before my Polish "Being Had" situation started, I am adding in a little from the original draft of the book "Being Had". There was quite a bit of material about my stay in Pinsk there as well as a lot of material about the events that led up to Poland. Today I guess I am paying tribute to my finally making a connection with Tatyana. Today's post ends with several letters written to friends immediately after. And though we have been together for five years, I guess I should say that reading through this material again felt kind of romantic. Probably this is because it was.

From the first draft of the book "Being Had"

The Fransican Monestary on Lenin Street in Pinsk
I made the rounds and said goodbye to everyone I had met. I wrote down all of the phone numbers and addresses so I would be able to call, though I didn’t think that I would. I planned only on staying through the weekend and then going on the Brest for the last few days of my visa and then back to Europe to try my luck in the bike game there. I was having lunch alone in the hotel bar when two women at the table across from me said hello. I said hello back and they told me they were friends of Tatyana and that they knew me from the bookstore. I got up and joined them. They told me that I should go and speak to Tatyana because she liked me quite a bit. I laughed and told them that I didn’t think this was so that Tatyana had made quiet clear that she didn’t like my company at all. This made them laugh and they said that I should go and talk with her. I told them that I was leaving and that my time had come to an end, but I would be happy to write to her and gave them my e-mail address. They said that I should write her because this would be far more proper and they gave me the e-mail address of the bookstore which I wrote it down not thinking anything about it.

The next day at the internet, my last day according to my new plan, I tried the E-mail several different ways but all of them came back. Hating loose ends, I went to the book store ostensibly to tell Tatyana that I was leaving and to get the E-mail right once and for all. I really didn’t want to be going there. Tatyana had made me feel like a fool every time I went to her and I had no idea why I was going through all of the hassle.

Tatyana was there behind the register in her usual spot and she smiled and stood up when I came in. I said that I simply came by because of the E-mail address. She didn’t understand. I told her that her friends had given me the store’s E-mail, I was leaving and that I just wanted to get the address straight so that maybe we could write from time to time. She just smiled at me and said nothing. I looked at her for a moment and then reiterated that really, I was leaving and that I had only come because her friends had told me that I should write and so really, this is why I was here and that I only wanted the correct E-mail because the one that her friends had given didn’t work. She just smiled at me in that same knowing, warm way and I felt then a bit confused. I said to her that I needed her to understand that I was telling her that I was going; I was on my way to Brest the following day and this was simply a farewell and that the E-mail was what I was looking for. Again she said nothing, only smiled. I felt something so familiar. I started to say something else but words seemed so ridiculous at that moment. The feeling was a warmth or an intimacy. One part of me felt I was being made a fool of, but somehow I simply didn’t care. We were having a conversation. Or better, we were starting our conversation; speaking without speaking. There was a spike and I didn’t want to trust this.

“You do know what it is you are telling me?” I asked. She nodded her head slightly. “I am planning on going tomorrow.” I repeated and she nodded that she understood this but and seemed to laugh slightly at my foolishness. I blinked a few times and smiled back at her and made a somewhat suggestive remark about sexual expectations, which she countered deftly. I looked at her with mild disbelief and cocked one eye and made a serious face. “Seven o’clock is the appropriate time to come and get you, right?”

“That will be fine.” she said. I told her I would be there. I left the store with an odd feeling. I wasn’t sure exactly what had just happened and I don’t believe she said more then than this or the word “seventeen” to me the whole time.

At seven o’clock I was there and she was waiting. I asked her if she wanted to walk for a bit and talk and she said that that would be fine. We went to a store nearby and searched for something nice to drink. We chose a bottle of something called “Count Dracula”, a red Romanian wine we chose because we liked the label. It was dark at seven and we walked along the promenade next to the river. When we were just in front of the hotel, we chose the bench and sat down.

There were many people, mostly younger kids walking and drinking and talking. Tatyana was nervous and I must admit that I was too. There is a way about Belarusian culture; a seriousness that is not a part of my American upbringing. I always forget, lapsing into irreverence when in difficult situations. I felt like we were being pulled toward something, walking in the direction of fate. Everything I said seemed only to antagonize the string that pulled us. I looked at her face and I could see she was thinking the same thing.

I kissed her and she accepted though her eyes were looking straight up over my head when I did. I stopped and she said that there were so many people around that she thought it was improper. I agreed, but kissed her again anyway and this time she returned my kiss, her tongue touching mine and we continued this way for a while. It was an odd moment though, like we were going too fast. We drank a bit more but the wine was terrible. I asked her if she wanted to drink something else and she said no and also declined food. I nodded in the direction of the hotel, whose presence had sat us down in the first place. She hesitated for a moment and then another and then agreed.

She blushed a bit while giving her passport to the deskman, who looked at me with the usual anger and jealousy. I was really getting tired of him but I suppose the feelings were mutual. I nodded to the hotel staff, which acted with polite neutrality. The elevator of course still didn’t work, so we climbed the seven flights of stairs and went to my room.

I poured some more wine into glasses and put out what food I had but she didn’t want anything. We kissed a bit, but it was cold and I stopped. We both stood there a minute and after I tried to be a bit more passionate, pressing her body against the wall, kissing her more forcefully. This was a little better, but I felt that she was doing something that she really didn’t want to do. I stopped and she smiled and sat down.

I decided I was glad that she had come to the room simply because I was happy to have her with me. I really did like Tatyana’s company very much and simply having some time with her would be just fine by me. And if the truth was that she didn’t really want to do anything, I guess I was Ok with that. I smiled and relaxed a little and so did she.

She asked me where the bathroom was and I pointed around the corner, apologizing for the lack of hot water. She walked past me smiling the same smile she stopped me with at the bookstore and in a moment I heard the water running. I told her through the door that I really wished that she could be Ok with our evening and that I didn’t want her to feel like she had to anything she didn’t want to do. She didn’t say anything.

I picked up my guitar and sat in a chair, leaning back on two legs against the wall. I played something sweet and noticed that my fingers had a firm heaviness to them. The music in that moment was calm and warm and I felt a downward push on my shoulders like an overabundant gravity. I enjoyed the feeling and relaxed into it, admiring the sound of the individual notes and they rippled away into the empty room. I decided I was happy for the company one way or another and to drop any expectations. I noticed that I didn’t feel sad or angry at this and this pleased me very much. I could hear that the water had stopped and I guessed she was listening to the music. I hoped that she liked it and that we would have a nice evening together. A minute later she came out of the bathroom wearing only her blouse and made a small scream as she climbed on my lap. We did.

Sun, 31 Mar 2002 00:41:22 -0800 (PST)
Sounds good. I never made it out of Pinsk yesterday. Went to say goodbye to Tatyana, and never got out of town at all. Maybe tomorrow- Humans rights superceded by a beautiful knig shop girl. So much for the revolution. Sweet sadness...what can I say?

Sun, 31 Mar 2002 23:05:40 -0800 (PST)
Ah life...still in Pinsk. Got caught up in something important and stayed two more days. Though I really am going to Brest today and back to Poland on Wednesday. Really. No really!!

So, I made friends with the theatre here in Pinsk. We traded scripts, and maybe we talk. I don't know anything, but maybe something maybe no. and last night at the hotel I had one of those really great moments that you wait maybe ten years for in life-no joke:

So, I have this cool translator program for Russian/English in my computer. It is not perfect you know, but it makes things comprehensible very quickly. So I ran the two scripts through the machine and got back some quasi gibberish English, that is, like I say, understandable, but must be rearranged or re worded before an English speaking audience can understand anything. So anyway, the computer does maybe 95% of the work of getting the words in English, but I must still do a lot of editing before it is a readable thing in English.

So, anyway, I am reading through one of the scripts very late last night. The only light in the room the bluish white glare from the computer screen, and there is a word I just do not understand. It says something about a character in the play being in the costume of "Yeva" and I just do not understand this word, it is not in the computer and it is not in my dictionary, and so I ask Tatiana what this word is, and she comes over from my bed and says gesturing with her hands at her own body "it says she is dressed in the costume of EVE. Just like this."

And you know, really, that'll work. You know?

Sun, 31 Mar 2002 23:14:33 -0800 (PST)
Hey Uladzimir,

I am sorry if I drive you crazy. I ran into some problems in leaving Pinsk, and so I stayed on an extra two days. I am on the three o'clock train this afternoon and will be in Brest for tomorrow. If you have time, I very much want to have a talk with you about things. I'll be there at the hotel, or I'll call you office after I get settled.

Cheers and I am sorry if I caused you any problems,