Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"Den Pobedi" Guest Blog - Moscow, Russia

Life on the road leaves me little time to do some of the things I love to do, like writing this blog. Fortunately, my good friend, Lisa, has her own idea of what life as a free woman entails. When I heard she was on her way to Russia, I saw an opportunity. I thought it might be refreshing to get a different perspective so I invited her to act as a guest blogger for this latest entry. I know you’ll enjoy her story as much as I do.


Before I tell this tale, there are three essential things you must know about me: 1) My entire family is involved in the boxing business and my mother runs a successful boxing promotion company; 2) I studied Russian in college and I lived and studied in St. Petersburg for a year; 3) I am prone to tangents and asides, so bear with me. I promise it will all come together.

I have this thing called “Den Pobedi.” It’s a term that I took from Russian. It means “Day of Victory.” In Russian, it refers to May 9th, the day Russians celebrate the victory over the Nazi’s during the Great Fatherland War, aka WWII. There is a corresponding war anthem, called none other than “Den Pobedi.” I became acquainted with the phrase through the song. I applied my own meaning, which has nothing to do with Nazis.

To me, “Den Pobedi” is when you win the worst kind of relationship game. Some relationships I leave feeling satisfied. I walk away knowing that it was for the best that it ended. More often than not, however, I leave with a distinct “What the FUCK?!” feeling. The partner decides - before I do - that we are headed for a dead end. I’m suddenly not as interesting as I previously seemed. I’m not as exciting. I’m clingy. I whine constantly. I’ve run out of cute underwear. I don’t know what happens. Because when it does, there is very little explanation. In fact, there is usually no explanation at all and I end up believing that I am still in the relationship well after it ends. It’s similar to when a phone call gets dropped and you keep on talking to dead air like an idiot. This sort of end to a relationship is nasty and ugly. Whereas I try to end most relationships on a good foot, the WTF relationships end on a noticeably crazier foot. That is to say, after I realize that I’ve been talking to dead air, I get angry and I want answers. I can’t help myself. I push the other person to tell me what has happened. What crime have I committed? Aren’t I still cute? Aren’t I still charming? Aren’t I still witty? Was I ever? What the FUCK?? I do not remain calm. I come off as a crazy woman. I’m not proud of it. But I’m aware of it. And I can’t help it. It is a sickness. My albatross.

But do not pity me, reader! A magical thing can happen. And in my experience, it ALWAYS happens. I am given a second chance. After some time, I will see the unlucky victim of my angry unrequited love, and shock-of-all-shocks!, I’m not the crazy faced woman they remember. I’ve matured, perhaps? I’m older. I’m wiser. My hair is longer. My boobs are bigger. I wasn’t crazy! I was passionate. They remember the good times and they want to experience them again. This is my Day of Victory. Maybe I lost a couple battles but, God damn it, I’ve won the war. They want me! They have been thinking about me. It was their fault, not mine. I was wonderful. What a fool they’ve been. They were young then. They are different now. Now they recognize me for the Goddess that I am. I’m an effing CATCH! Would I like to go to dinner? Of course, I would. I turn on the charm and I can leave them a satisfied woman because I can walk away from the relationship on top, on my own terms. They no longer seem so terrible. I’ve tamed the beast. Look at them scrambling to win back my affections! What did I ever see in them in the first place? I don’t have any use for them anymore. They were right all along. So long, lover… we’re done. “Eto Den Pobedi!”

I ended up in Moscow for a boxing match my mother’s company was co-promoting. Since I speak Russian, Mom thought it would be useful to bring me along and help the company navigate the cold post-soviet streets. Unfortunately, I could only be there for a couple days. My mother and her crew were there longer than I and they needed someone to help them around town. Enter: my ex-boyfriend. I’ll call him Michael. He was a fellow Slavophile. He had been in Moscow for a couple months and he was the only person I knew who was living there at the time. I put him and my mother in contact with each other then stayed out of it.

Michael and I had definitely left off on the crazy foot. One of the craziest feet I’ve ever put forward. I won’t go into details, but needless to say, I was nervous to see him. Michael was one of the few guys that really got under my skin. We were not together for that long. And it was never official. But, in my own emotionally stunted way, I think I really cared about him and felt that we had real potential as a couple. He’s what you call “the whole package;” smart, funny, charming, sexy, ambitious, talented… womanizing. I can’t shake the feeling that somehow he duped me. Hoodwinked! He was the one how followed me around like a puppy, trying to woo me. He worshipped me. So how the hell did I end up sore? I felt, at the beginning of the relationship, we entered into an unspoken contract that I would be the one doing the heart breaking. Michael had other plans.

When I did see him in Moscow, it was not what I expected. He was so sweet and so warm and actually wanted to see me! I was thrilled. I kept it inside. And what a surprise, I started hearing those familiar lines. Michael, not you, too! Did he really find me as charming as I found him? Did he really miss me? Did he really still think about me? Please, please, no lines… no bullshit. I admit, we were both a little drunk. But those were still the words I wanted to hear and thought I’d never hear. It was happening and I allowed myself to enjoy it. Victory!

We spent the rest of our time together enjoying each other’s company, flirting, reminiscing. These are the times when stupid pop songs take on an unusual dimension of profundity. I get very foolish in the face of love. I’m not one to be trusted in romantic situations. The old familiar feeling often gets me into trouble and this time was no different.

On my last night in Moskva, the entire group was assembled together: a mix of school buddies, boxing professionals and ex-boyfriends. Yes, there was actually more than one there (that’s what you get for studying something as absurd as Russian: a nearly useless skill and a bunch of pale ex-boyfriends). We were in mourning. Our guy lost the fight. And as they say, “When in Rome…” drink your ass off. We did just that. So I was high on two drugs: the thrill of victoriously rekindled romance and vodka. Lots and lots of vodka. I had a plane to catch early the next morning. I needed to go to bed early. But somehow, at the end of the night, I ended up with a key to an extra room and Michael. What ELSE were we going to do? We spent the night together and accidentally fell asleep without setting any alarms, without packing any bags, without telling anyone where we were.

In the morning, my mother was hysterical. She couldn’t find me and WE HAD A PLANE TO CATCH! Damn it, Lisa, why do you always do this? I had gone missing. Now, my mother is no dummy, she knew who I was with. She called Michael’s cell phone frantically. She called Michael’s friend’s cell phone frantically. She checked in my friends’ rooms frantically. She checked down in the lobby, back in our suite. Where the fuck was I?

The extra room!

She assembled a rescue committee and had a maid open the door with a passkey. And there she found us: in bed… passed out … and naked, very, very naked. “LISA!” Her shrill howl, the shock and disgust in that single cry, still resounds in my mind. It bounces around like an echo. At times, it grows faint, faint enough not to hear it, to forget it. And then, back it comes, to the forefront. It grows so loud that I am sure my ears are now serving their reverse function. I no longer use them to process sound, but to project it. The entire room can hear my mother’s disappointment and they know my shame.

Now, I’m not the kind of girl that pretends to be innocent. I’ve never claimed virginity. In fact, I had no problem announcing it to my mother when I had sex for the first time. Although, it was much to her horror; the woman is Catholic. But I’ve just always been like that: unashamed. I never understood what the fuss is about. Valuing female virginity has always seemed repressive and outdated to me. But there’s being open about one’s sexuality and then there’s putting it on display… to one’s own mother no less! This is an entirely different beast. One I am not proud to have encountered.

I got ready and packed in a hurry only to come down to the lobby and realize that not only did I embarrass myself in front of my mother, but also the ENTIRE fight crew. Everyone: people who watched me grow up, people who are like aunts and uncles to me, my mother’s business associates, corner men, EVERYONE knew what I had been doing the night before. I was the laughing stock of the trip! The trip slut! And I endured all the ensuing torture - the laughs, the snide comments, the sarcastic questions, the smirks - all the way home. I doubt I’ll ever live this down. At least not for another 20 years or so. Maybe this error in judgment will finally stop following me around once they are all dead. God, if you are a merciful God, bring on sweet death. It’s either them or me.

As I sit, reliving, writing, revolted, I find it difficult to conclude. On top of everything, something is still nagging at me. My “Den Pobedi” does not feel right. Maybe the residual shame of my mother discovering us passed out naked and exposing my little secret ruined it. Maybe the group’s amusement cheapened my tryst. I know I heard the lines. I know I got the right looks. But, I don’t feel victorious. Maybe it’s something else. Maybe I’m questioning Michael’s sincerity. Did he trick me again? In the mad rush to recover my clothes and my dignity, I forgot to say goodbye. It wasn’t until we touched down on American soil that I recognized I still wasn’t satisfied. I got him to admit defeat, but I don’t want him defeated. Whatever the reason, I’ve got Moscow on my mind. And I don’t feel like a winner at all.

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