Serious Relationship

It is only in our youth that we are so selflessly and completely indulging to fun and are so hopelessly feeling alone, fearfully thinking about our uncertain future.

Serious Relationship is  a book that describes with maximum fidelity the experience of searching for the most comfortable partner in entertainment and, possibly, in the future, a partner in more serious relations during the dramatic events in the history of Russia in the early 90s of the last century. The heroine analyzes her momentary desires, her feelings about communicating with men and trying to find the most suitable relationship format for her.

As soon as I met someone, I became curious how soon he would leave me. After that I was feeling alone still being together with him. And finally I was already worried about the fact that we had broken up.

This is the true real life story. These events not only just could have happened at this very time and in this very country, but they indeed have happened in reality, and the author seeks to describe these raw experiences with the greatest objectivity and unvarnished.

This is the second book in The Unbearable Longing of the Flesh series.

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Helpline

“By the time you read these words, I probably will be gone…”
In the middle of the night I wake up. I’m shaking. With a tearful grimace, I am trying to sink back into the dream saving me from reality at least for a while.

Mom, mom, don’t call me. Don’t come into my room. I do not want to eat. I’m not going anywhere today. I will lie like this under the covers, with my face turned to the wall, and sobbing. Let the tears choke me. I want to cry out all my tears.

The helpline is 999-99-33. I’ll call, this is my last hope.
Once I overheard this number and wrote it down by inertia. And now the moment has come to use it.

“Girl, and did you have such a situation… When, on the contrary, you had to tell someone you didn’t need him? Although you knew you were hurting him by saying this? ” a professional psychologist asks me.
She is calm. She is completely calm.
“I have … ” I’m starting to remember.

A woman on the other end waits patiently. This is her job.
“Well, now you see, girl! So you also had such a situation! And now you’ve kind of changed roles. So that…”
So that… Don’t worry! Be happy!

Someone, – it seems, it was Alex – said in such cases you needed to take several pils of demerol at once, and then it would all be over.
I will be lying on the bed, crying and imagining I will call him from the telephone box, say I will kill myself, and then take out the pills brought in advance and swallow it.”

It was quote from “Serious Relations” (The Unbearable Longing of the Flesh Book 2)

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How to find a right guy?

“In the search for the man of my dreams, I used the special parties called “dating balls”. Such events for youth were organized by the company called “The Scarlet Sails”, which rented assembly halls of universities and houses of culture from time to time on Saturday evenings.

Usually, before going to such a disco, I used first to go somewhere to have a little drink to get in the mood. Once I managed to go into one of the “nest of vipers” as Vlad used to put it, just near the October Field metro station. There I came to the attention of some dudes who started expressing signs of approval to me. These guys turned to have come from Sochi city.

Feeling that I was being watched, to keep my face, I ordered a little more vodka than that was needed, and, of course, there were no snacks, and this led to sad consequences… In one of the periods between memory lapses, I suddenly found myself standing in the street in front of some kind of entrance of the house where they were trying to make me enter into. As I understood, these dudes were renting an apartment somewhere nearby, and at the sight of my sociable behavior – in fact, I just wanted to show that I was really cool in my ability to drink, and there was absolutely nothing personal in it – they had the idea to drag me in there…

As a result, I got off with a black eye, but the degree of intoxication was too great to go to some disco after this, and I went to the side of my home instead and as soon as I reached my bed, I fell right to sleep at once. “

It was quote from “Serious Relations” (The Unbearable Longing of the Flesh Book 2).

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And Don’t You Cry Tonight

And when one day he took possession of my body, I even burst into tears. Naturally, he did not know how to respond to this.

I was even scared a little by my crying during making love…
After thinking about this a little bit, I decided that, perhaps, at the moment when the man was taking possession of me, I still felt like a raped little girl. But in general, it was exactly a kind of male violence against me what attracted me in sex. Or, perhaps, my tears were associated with the exchange of energy between bodies that occurred during copulation.

During our intimacy, I felt the full significance of what was happening and outdid myself in expressing passion … Although in fact, my passion was not at all caused by the personality of my sexual partner. My strong emotions were simply the result of the thoughts about my unhappy life. It was a kind of despair over the fact that, despite all the efforts, it seemed again I didn’t succeed. For me, sex was always a sacrament, a complete harmony and a fusion, but if this did not happen in the way I had expected, then I was inevitably upset. Therefore, in bed, I involuntarily started playing a performance of excess of feelings, and, as it sometimes does, I myself believed in this performance too.

It was quote from “Serious Relations” (The Unbearable Longing of the Flesh Book 2).

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The autumn sun that did not warm…

However, there was one friend Lenka whom I was hanging out with.
I remember once she invited me to her place.

The September sun that did not warm… Precisely such kind of sun was shining as she brought me from her city apartment to the garden of her country house.
The garden was rich with sun and covered in fallen apples – signs of the inevitable wilting of nature.
We were picking apples. We satisfied our hunger with hastily cooked potatoes and canned fish.
The country house was completely at our disposal, we felt there as sovereign owners.
Her naive admiration for her “vast” possessions was transferred also me while she was galloping and frolicking, like a child, jumping on springy beds and climbing trees…
Having agreed to share this simple leisure with her, I found myself to have a strange feeling that both boredom and a desire to get away quickly were inevitably taking hold of me.
At that time, I had already tasted all the charm of merging and unity with a man, all the exciting and sweet abyss of this game, and therefore I could no longer seek sincerely to harmony in communication with my girl friends.

It was quote from “Serious Relations” (The Unbearable Longing of the Flesh Book 2).

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How not to be considered an old maid

Gradually, I really came to consider myself as an old maid.
Although previously the time factor did not pressure me, and I only wanted to have fun, now I really had to think about having a steady boyfriend. It occurred to me that if I was still alone, then something was wrong with me. Perhaps I was ugly, and over time I became additionally old and evil. In my behavior I started noticing such features of the classic old maid as irritability and suspicion.
My body started to get old and my feelings, awaiting a man I could love, still remained unused.
If I saw couples in love on the street, then I got into bad mood.
I started avoiding people who might ask me if I had already married or not… From now on, a girl of my age needed to get married in order just to increase self-esteem.

It was quote from “Serious Relations” (The Unbearable Longing of the Flesh Book 2).

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Julio Cortazar and … the sky of Paris

The name of Cortazar entered my life a long time ago.
This is what I write in my history “Serious Relationship” from the Cycle “The Unbearable Longing of the Flesh”:

“These names of Latin American writers were a kind of cultural code for us, a sort of secret Masonic greeting, by which we recognized a member of the inner circle. It’s no accident the urban myth existed that Phystech students used to seduce the girls as follows: “Didn’t you read Cortazar? Go to bed! Didn’t you read Borges? To bed!”

Long time ago when I first learned about the existence of Cortazar, this luminary of 20th century prose seemed to me such a classic figure from the past that it never occurred to me that somewhere in pre-youtube reality his color videos were being carefully stored.

But then Cortazar fan from western hemisphere sent me a link to a video of Julio’s color interview from 1980.
In principle, a lot of what he says in this interview, I read many years ago in printed Russian interviews in the prefaces to collections of his stories. But it so happened that the video footage of Cortazar, walking in bell-bottomed trousers near the canal, and then riding a bus along the Seine embankment with a panoramic view of the opposite bank in the window made me feel nostalgia for Paris and remember one completely Parisian story of Cortazar – “Another sky” – ” El otro cielo “.
In this story, Julio does what I love most about him: he shuffles the points on the map and different eras. The hero of the story goes through the Pasaje Güemes gallery in Buenos Aires to the galleries of Paris,

“into a small world that has chosen the near sky, where the glasses are dirty and the plaster statues are holding out a garland for you”.

To be honest, I was racking my brain a little trying to decipher this story.
The first and most banal thing that comes to mind is the so-called notorious escape from the everyday reality of Buenos Aires since the end of the Second World War.

But then over time more and more insistently during the descriptions of the main hero’s wandering through the Parisian galleries, the author draws our attention to a certain “American” who seemed to be deeply in some of his dreams and did not want to interrupt the hero and his company,

“And while she was talking, I looked at him again and saw him paying for absinthe, throwing a coin on a lead saucer, and looking at us (as if we had disappeared for an endless moment) with a careful, empty look, as if he has stuck in dreams and did not want wake up!”

Then the “American” dies in that Parisian reality, which seems to be parallel to Buenos Aires’ reality.
“I found out how he fell on one of the streets of Montmartre; I found out that he was alone, and that a candle was burning among the books and papers, and his friend took the cat, and he lies in a common grave, and no one remembers him.”

And right after the death of the “American” our hero stopped falling into another dimension,

“I broke away, like a flower from a garland, from the two deaths, so symmetrical in my opinion – the death of an American and the death of Laurent, – one died in the hotel, the other disappeared in the Marseille, – and the two deaths merged into one and were erased forever from the memory of this local sky.”

Still, I have a serious suspicion that the second – Argentine – reality is also not very … real, and the hero has long died, and only his ghost in the form of an “American” has been walking through the galleries for some time.
Indeed, here is the phrase, confirming this version, at the very beginning of the story:

“Even now it is not easy for me to enter the Guemes gallery and not to be moved a little mockingly, remembering my youth when I almost died.”

And it turns out that all these Parisian characters are just flowers on a dead garland, which a plaster statue gives the ghost.

“We were, as it were, woven into a garland (later I realized that there are also funeral garlands)”
“But gradually, slowly, from there, where there is neither him, nor Josiana, nor the holiday, something was approaching me, and I more and more felt that I was alone, that everything was not so, that my world of galleries was under threat – not, even worse – all my happiness here is just a deception, a prologue to something, a trap among flowers, as if a plaster statue gave me a dead garland “

Really, we need not to forget that Cortazar is very fond of “juggling” characters. For example, he has the story “Clone”, where he came up with 6 characters and the relationship between them, simply based on the parties of different instruments in a particular piece of music.

Then I found a short video with another interview with Cortazar in Paris, where it is about Julio’s special places in Paris.

He talks about the notion of “place of passage”, and then calls Paris “a mythical city”. As the first such special place, he calls “Pont Neuf next to the statue of Henry IV and the lamppost – an absolutely lonely corner with a sense of mystery and inevitability. The second place is the Paris Metro, where time flows in a completely different way.”
And – attention! – at 4.45 he talks about … Parisian galleries.

“There are also absolutely magical and mysterious indoor galleries and haunted places. This is what I call mythical” – at this time, the galleries Galerie Vivienne and Passage des Panoramas are shown.

Galerie vivienne

Passage des Panoramas

Oh, and if you are interested to find out what I personally think about the surroundings of Pont Neuf, then this is written in part 5 of my Saga “The Unbearable Longing of the Flesh” , which describes my own night wanderings along Paris:

“The most memorable sight in Paris for me was the night dark Seine, flowing its waters under the bridge to the music in my headphones, and the flow of cars on the freeways on both sides of the river. Unlike the endless sea, the dark expanse of which is also bewitching in its own way, an alluring way to the other side was opened to me, where something truly remarkable seemed to be happening … There, on the other side, I spotted the floating restaurant “Jardins du Pont Neuf” – “Gardens of the New Bridge” , to visit which sometime in good company has become an unattainable dream for me – so it is the highest life point of the type “Life is Good” for me so far… “

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