does not consist of gazing at each other,
but in looking outward in the same direction"
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery
I often think back to my first visit to Moscow, Tashkent and St. Petersburg
in the spring of 1991 and how it has changed my life. It was
on the Borodinsky Bridge across the Moscow River that I first discovered
the attraction that would lead to a sequel to the first part of our Love
of this wonderful development in my life. I had been searching
for the right combination of contribution, intimacy, adventure and spontaneity
for years. Now it seemed that this woman who had come into my
life so suddenly had the potential to become a part of this quest.
Upon returning to the U.S. after the international seminar in Tashkent, I had some contact with my partner of that seminar periodically throughout the next year. Both of us were in marital relationships and the contact with each other just seemed to make our lives in our own environments that much more difficult. Finally, my partner decided that to continue our friendship would do irreparable harm to her marriage, which was in need of some repair after 20+ years. For myself, I seemed to need new and fresh challenges in my life and it always seemed to occur in all aspects of my life at once, professional and personal.
I had never experienced such growth in spiritual and emotional mindset as I had during the year following my return from Russia. My working partner filled many of the spaces in my ability to perceive that which is seen from the heart rather than the eye. Thus, when I received a letter from her which said that she was requesting that we stop all communication with each other, I was quite devastated! As coincidence would have it, I was spending the next weekend in Victoria at a reunion of the team that presented the seminar in Tashkent. So, with this letter bearing heavy on my mind and a sad heart, I made my way to Victoria for the reunion.
The next several weeks passed slowly and my thoughts went often to the times I had enjoyed so much in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Tashkent, and to the concerts, picnics and outings that had strengthened our relationship since returning to the US. At the time, I carried a pager for business purposes, and she had always had the number although rarely used it. I was currently enrolled in a Russian class in a local community college and was just finishing a latte in the local coffee house, when I felt my pager activate. When I looked down at the number, you can imagine my surprise to see it was the number I had called so many times in the past. It was the number of my partner who had so recently decided not to continue our relationship.
Well, we talked catch up items for over an hour and the warmth and glow of our previous meetings seemed to be present although there was a caution and reserve in our exchanges. An encouraging item in our conversation was that she was planning a trip to a National Park nearby to stay with friends for a coming weekend. I swallowed hard and asked if it would be possible for us to meet there to discuss in person the issues that had led to our separation. My heart leapt as she did agree to see me there! I made plans to fly to the nearest airport and rent a car for the trip.
As I began the drive to this meeting, I felt it would have an impact on my life for many years, and I both anticipated and dreaded it for this reason. I wanted to bring our relationship back to where it was in the past year, but at the same time, respected my friend's need to create stability and happiness in her own life.
The next 24 hours were some of the most meaningful and yet peaceful times we had ever spent together. The weather was sunny the next day, and the setting near one of the tallest mountains in the US was one of getting back to nature, enjoying wildflowers, and exchanging thoughts, emotions and our deepest loves and fears.
We both discovered that the friendship we had built was stronger than distance and our personal lives could diminish . As a result of this weekend, we continued to foster each other's emotional growth with support for our own internal struggles and the attempts to bring some order to our daily lives. We continued to experience travel together and life in Warsaw, Moscow, and many other cities of Eastern Europe and the republics of the former Soviet Union.
Ultimately, we came to understand that the pull of a land 12,000 miles away, and a meaningful seminar given to a people who hungered for growth, was so strong that it formed the basis for our eventual marriage in a far off city where we first met four years before on a cold, clear night on a bridge across the Moscow River. Our adventures living in Moscow and for a time in Warsaw are ones that will never be forgotten and to this day, we are anxious to repeat our life in Moscow with another assignment.
Our love story sequel is one that we attempted to deny and forget, but the love, deep caring about each other's welfare, and eventual happiness at passing time together wherever we may be, became the strongest tie that binds two people in a lifetime relationship together. It has taken me over 50 years, experiencing many types of relationships, and living in many cultures to realize that the one true relationship is one that is independent of space and time, and is rooted deep in the ability of each one to be patient, foster unconditonal love and live their commitment to their Philosophy of Life, their faith, and each other.
The last seven years have been at once the most satisfying, and the most spontaneous of my life. I wouldn't exchange these experiences and my decision to spend my remaining years with my partner from an international seminar, who became my wife on May 5, 1995 in a Russian church in Moscow, for anything I can imagine!