Eighteen years ago, I married a Russian national.
Six months later, alone in our Moscow flat, I sweltered. Outside, smoldering peat fires ringed the city, intensifying the hottest summer in years. Open windows benefitted little when acrid smoke and automotive exhaust coated the apartment with visible grit.
Russian city life shocked me. Apartment complexes switched off hot water for half the year. Washing machines were rare and expensive. In fact, laundromats charged upwards of $20 for a modest load. Naturally, I became accustomed to cold showers and shampooing clothes in the kitchen sink.
On this hot, lonesome day I decided to clean our sheets in the bathtub. I visualized my husband’s surprise when he returned from the university to fresh, ironed bedclothes.
It was a herculean effort. Linen sheets soak up an improbable amount of water. Each wet sheet weighed as much as a small child. Squeezing out water consumed most of the afternoon.
I reflected as I worked the sheets. Marriage is one of the greatest choices in life. Even in a foreign country, whose language I did not read or speak, laundry took on a quality of romantic suffering. Genuine misery could have been a real probability.
We chose marriage within months of meeting. Something seemed profoundly right about togetherness. As a woman with Asperger’s, misreading others is de rigueur. Circumstance blessed me.
I hauled the sheets to the kitchen laundry lines (anything hung outside collected soot from cars passing below).
Despite my best efforts to wrest out the water, the sheets dribbled lukewarm puddles on to the kitchen table and floor. The puddles required towels that would similarly need to be wrung out and dried. I laughed.
Life is like this: circular, ironic, difficult and blissful. I stood in the steaming summer kitchen joyous. I had the perfect partner to pass through time with.
My husband arrived late that evening and nearly fainted from shock. It was a man’s duty to wrestle sodden sheets, he emphasised. I overlooked the subtle sexist remark. Those sheets were heavy! He slept on crinkly bare mattresses without complaint.
Eighteen years later, I am still mind-numbingly grateful.
Egor is my anchor–prudent, unprejudiced, intelligent and unflappable. His solidness balances the flinging vigor of my moods. I am a zany planet orbiting my husband’s grave and pensive sun. He is nourished by my chipper, eccentric energy.
The two of us once joked how we did not view each other as people, but rather as special beloved pets.
This makes sense. When a pet lover comes home to a wagging tale or resounding purr, is their heart not instantly filled with the purest, most non-judgmental love? I want to yodel when I see my hubby in the morning. If I had a tail, I’d thump glasses off tables.
So, I raise that upturned glass to my special interest of eighteen years. Happy anniversary, dear Egor!