Happy Old New Year: Update

We just realized that the Old New Year (Orthodox) isn’t until the 13th:  tuesday. It’s only the 11th. Our only redemption on this error is that it’s already the 12th in Ukraine, so we are off by only 1 day. But still…we really must chalk this entire holiday season up to being the one we got entirely wrong. Some holidays we all but missed altogether, others we tried but failed, and some we didn’t want to celebrate, but went out into the world anyway with a smile on our face. And this one, we celebrated too early and too little.

We tried for the cake. We went to the Noe Valley Bakery where we get almost all our cake. But since we had not specially ordered one, we had to get a pre-made one off the shelf. Unfortunately, when we brought it home and sliced it, it had the distictive texture of a cake that had been sitting out on the shelf a day too long. It’s edible, but not tasty and moist. It’s a bit dry. I think I’ll be consuming more of the buttercream frosting than the cake itself.

We also tried to rent Irony of Fate (Ирония судьбы, или С лёгким паром!) at Lost Weekend Video on Valencia St. But sadness again. The video store does not carry the movie. We considered watching Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears (Москва слезам не верит) again, but opted not to. We chose to return home and procrastinate do our respective work and chores.

Once the 13th comes and goes, I think we can officially count the 2008-2009 holiday season as over. It will haven been our first holiday season together as a married couple. Short of somebody dying (though everybody does die eventually) or the economy faltering so much we find ourselves standing in a soup line for our holiday meals, we can only improve in our celebrations and establishing our own traditions. Next year, I think my inner control freak should be sufficiently rested to get out a calendar and make a battle plan to tackle all the days that fall between Thanksgiving and the Old New Year.

*****

I wish I could capture the day that was San Francisco today. It was so beautiful. So warm. The way the light bounced of the pastel-wooden walls of the houses. The very softness of the air. The pinks and oranges overlaying the blues at sunset. A hot pink jetstream cutting across though very pinks and oranges. The hippies sitting outside their houses on the stoop watching the sky change its colors. The single star glistening surrounded by sea blue sky. The mission hipsters riding their bikes acoss and down Valence. The Cubans outside Radio Habana with the salsa playing. The Ukrainian and I kissing each other at each crosswalk, so rich the air was with love and romance. The sadness I felt, thinking that I must be on holiday and tonight is the end of it all. The world is so beautiful. I keep thinking I will wake up and be surrounded by cold and barrenness and a pale gray sky that gives life to nothing. But tomorrow’s forecast only call for more beauty. 

I once fell in love with a Bulgarian. He introduced me to San Francisco and all the beauty and misery it has to offer. I thought that it was him that had opened my heart after it had been so hardened by New York. But then I went away. I moved to Northern Europe where there was only rain. So little light. (But the grass was greener than any I’d ever seen.) When I returned to San Francisco, I had a moment when I was riding on the back of a motorcycle, returning from a date in Half Moon Bay with an Irishman. We flew over the hills of Dolores St. We were coming back at sunset, heading north, the palm trees dividing the the street in front of us and the city below. It was then that I realized that maybe I did not love the Bulgarian as much as I had thought. But I loved the city. San Francisco. So beautiful that you can not help but love everything contained within her limits.

San Francisco, your beauty hurts me sometimes. You are so beautiful you hurt the eyes in front of my heart. Only such beauty could bring me back for more.

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Hello 2009 — The Year of Change!

The Ukrainian has declared 2009, in the heart of the upcoming Obama inauguration to be The Year of Change.

By the time Spring rolls around, he will have been here 2 years and we will have been married 1 year. Soooo….he should be used to the USA and we should be used to being married. It will be time to do what we do well even better and improve upon the things that need to be improved upon.

When I lived in the Netherlands and had a committed Dutch partner, I was warned that the native partner would come to resent the foreigner’s dependency upon him. While the native might first feel like a hero to be needed so much, the dependence upon him eventually becomes a burden. Likewise, when I first moved to San Francisco, I relied heavily upon my Bulgarian boyfriend (who’d been living in SF for several years and knew the territory) for our social agenda and general knowledge of the City. I learned much from him. But also, as well, he began to resent the fact that so much of my life was lived through his.

Now, there has been some feeling on my part of resentment that maybe the Ukrainian relies upon me a bit too much. It’s difficult to say how much, to quantify these moments. And certainly, he functions quite well on his own. But the fact that I have this feeling at all has created some discord between us. Nothing frightful, but enough to alert us that the nature of our relationship needs to grow and expand a bit. And we are committed to growing and changing!! (God, that sounds so New Age and Californicated.)

So 2009 will be the year I back off a little and not try to control everything and the Ukrainian steps up a little and becomes more comfortable in his new life and takes more initiative. That is our married New Year’s Resolution.

For my personal New Year’s Resolution, I merely wish 2009 to be simple, happy and healthy. We had a very full 2008. A bit more relaxation in 2009 might be in order.

On our first anniversary, I finally learn to trust my husband

Sunday was the 1 year anniversary of the Ukrainian and I meeting. I spent the day stranded at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago due to tornadoes and other extreme Midwestern weather. The Ukrainian spent the day working on his financial internship in San Francisco. We were 2300 miles apart with no idea of what time we would see each other again. I was exhausted from a multi-city tour of the East Coast and Midwest that originated due to the need to attend a memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery the previous Monday and to be in Chicago for my 10 year class reunion at the University of Chicago by Friday. In the middle of my travels, I spent 3 days in NYC working. I was stranded and exhausted. The Ukrainian was over-worked and far away.

You wouldn’t think such a set-up would lend itself to romance…but au contraire…as anyone who has ever seen Love Actually knows, airports are the place-to-be for romance at its finest with all its good-byes and hellos, reunions, last-moment-forevers, and those who meet their lovers while being stranded themselves.

I had a friend in New York whose then-boyfriend now-husband used to take a taxi to meet her at La Guardia whenever her flight arrived or departed — no matter how early or late. Another friend would take the bus up to Harlem and then over to La Guardia to meet her fiance so that he wouldn’t have to travel into the city alone. Me? I just gave all my visitors my address and expected them to hail a cab themselves just as I hailed one myself whenever I was off to or coming from someplace. I was never in love enough or had anyone who loved me enough to pay the cabfare and take the time to meet me at the airport.

Then I moved to San Francisco in the spring of 2004. Within months, I met and fell in love with a Bulgarian (not to be confused with the Ukrainian) who drove a silver G4 Golf and made it his duty to see that I was always picked up from San Francisco International airport. During the 6 or 7 months we were together, I traveled often. To Des Moines. Austin. Dallas. NYC. Miami. Dallas again and again for work. Each time, the Bulgarian was there to pick me up right outside United’s baggage claim in Terminal 2. I took his dedication to airport-pickup duties as a true sign of his love and devotion to me. The drive from the airport to the city of San Francisco was filled with my chattering about all I saw and did on my trip. At my house, he would carry in my luggage, we would have a little romance usually followed by a nice dinner out on Valencia St. “Being picked up at the airport”. Could there be a more romantic date than that?

But the relationship didn’t last. All the while the Bulgarian was picking me up at the airport and following up with superbly romantic dates, he had scheduled his ex-girlfriend back in Sofia, Bulgaria to move in with him into his 1-room San Francisco studio apartment come winter.

After her arrival and our breaking, there was no longer anyone to meet me at the airport. Gone was the anticipation I felt when I deboarded the plane and made my way down to United’s baggage claim. Now, it was almost the same mess of a life I led in NYC. After getting the bag, I would have to spend a not-so-small fortune on a taxi, or wait forever for the train back to San Francisco. While in New York, I had felt young and independent and quite worldly making my way to and from NY’s airports, in San Francisco I felt merely old and rejected. Sad that not only did I have to travel myself, I had no one to come home to.

2 years after breaking up with the Bulgarian in 2005 and less than a week after meeting the Ukrainian in 2007, I was departing for another trip. This time I was flying to Las Vegas to join 24 strangers on a wild and crazy road trip through Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. We would be visiting the Grand Canyon, hiking in the desert outside of Page, Arizona, and embarking on a perilous hike to Angel’s Landing in Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. The trip was part of a conscious effort to revive the independent spirit that I had lost when I broke up with the Bulgarian and, subsequently a year later, the Dutchman.

The Ukrainian seemed sad that I was leaving only a few days after our meeting.

“I’ll be back,” I told him.

“I’ll pick you up at the airport,” he replied.

“Really?” I asked.

“Really.”

But the Ukrainian wasn’t waiting for me outside the United baggage claim at terminal 2. I stood at the baggage claim, exhausted and dehydrated from my desert hiking trip, waiting for my desert hiking gear to appear on the conveyor belt when suddenly 2 arms grabbed me from behind, a face nestled itself into my neck, and flowers were thrust into my hands.

It was the Ukrainian!!!

Driving around San Francisco International airport waiting for me to appear, as the Bulgarian had done, was not good enough for the Ukrainian. He bought the flowers. He parked the car. He greeted me in a most romantic, if a bit surprising gesture.

My fellow hikers stared. The women flashed green with a bit of envy. Here was one of their fellow hikers getting the scene-from-a-movie airport greeting. Immediately, I knew I had made the right choice. Of all the men I could’ve been dating at that time, I wanted him: the Ukrainian.

There have been more trips since that first one, of course: Iowa, New York, and Asia. And each time the Ukrainian has made it his mission to meet me right at the baggage claim. Even after his car finally died a brutal death, the Ukrainian would take the train down to the airport to be there for my arrival.

But despite my love for the Ukrainian, and his great romancing talents, I kept finding myself lacking the anticipation of having someone waiting for me at the airport. I was always happy to see him and happy to be home. But I held back from the “OhMyGodI’veBeenWaitingForeverToSeeYouAndIAmSoHappyYou’reHere” onslaught of emotion that would’ve made me grab him wildly and kiss him with all the full force and equality of my love for him.

I held back because I didn’t trust the situation. I didn’t trust that the day might come when the Ukrainian would not be there to meet me at the airport with flowers and a hug and a kiss and a smile. I didn’t want to transform myself back into the rejected woman I had been only a year prior.

But this trip back East on the anniversary of our meeting and almost the same anniversary to the day of our first pick-up at the airport was the first time I had traveled since we’d been married. And something was different. Something had happened in the past 2 1/2 months since we had said “I do” in the same spot that Marilyn Monroe and Joe Dimaggio had said “I do” some 40+ years ago in San Francisco’s city hall. I had begun to relax. I had begun to trust my husband. That no matter what divorce and marriage statistics might say, my husband would always be there to meet me at the airport and also be there for anything else I needed in the coming years and decades. There would be no ex-girlfriends secretly inserting themselves into his life and no sudden spurt of Anti-Americanism (as had been partially the case with the Dutchman) causing him to get cold feet. We were already married. We had made a commitment to each other to stick it through thick and thin.

And while sitting there in O’Hare airport on our 1-year anniversary of our meeting, waiting for the weather to calm down, I wanted to be with my husband. I imagined him coming up to me from behind with flowers in his hand just as he did that first week after our meeting. I imagined the romance that was sure to follow once we got home. And I imagined us lounging on the sofa afterwards, eating our anniversary cake and discussing all the details of our week apart and our year together.

I texted him every update to the flight delays and weather pattern. I texted him when I got on the plane, when we ready to take off, when we landed, when I was inside the gate, in the bathroom, and on my way. As I headed down the stairs toward United’s baggage claim, my eyes scanned the waiting people looking for his blonde hair and his tall, lean physique. At first I didn’t see him. I was disappointed, of course. But knew he would be there, somewhere. And then, just as I head over to the claim for United Flight 149 from ORD to SFO, I saw him. And he saw me. And I ran. I ran to him. I jumped on him like a monkey. And I kissed him for the entire past year of loving him. And I kissed him for not having kissed him enough all those times he had met me before.

At last, I had found my someone to always meet me at the airport. And OhMyGodIHadBeenWaitingForeverAndCouldn’tWaitToSeeHim.