Rip-roaring X-mas of the Soul.
This time – Sunday 15 December, ‘Öffis’ have different schedules to weekdays. Buses and trains run at slightly different times. Why B chose to take a Sunday flight is not clear, as I had agreed with her Saturday flights. However, as she had given me her arrival time at 16:30, I had to walk from Weidling Church to Weidling train station for catching the bus to Heiligenstadt in good time. I had to connect to the train at Wien-Mitte to reach the Airport in time for her arrival. And she had messaged me that she would be not falling asleep on the toilet this time. I was in good shape, having cooked myself a hearty beef goulash, and could make the 4km distance on foot in 35 minutes, just in time to catch the bus to Heiligenstadt. From there I made it in good time with the U4 to Wien-Mitte, to catch the train to the Airport. The train arrived on schedule at 15:45, meaning that I would be at the airport just at the time the airplane landed.
But instead of enjoying a good coordination of our arrival times, fears began to rise in me, as B had not emerged from the bi-parting doors at the arrival gate after two hours. There must have been a problem, perhaps airline schedules had changed and I was not contacted. The electronic information screen showed that planes from Athens had landed at 16:35 and 16:55. At the airport info-desk I was told that the airline B had chosen had arrived at 16:55 and not at the earlier time, B had phoned through on Mrs M’s mobile phone, as she had been part of the booking. Well, I had waited for over two hours and had not been able to stand up on my feet for much longer. At the second time the info counter called up her name, which she said would be announced all over the airport, the info woman received a call from the luggage area that B needs still to pick up her luggage onto a trolley. I asked the friendly young woman to message to the baggage counter that somebody could help retrieving her luggage. I had to wait patiently for another hour. At quarter to seven B emerged talking to a woman, dressed in dark blue indicating to be part of the airport staff. B waved her hands and seemed to be highly excited. I said hello and she addressed me with good afternoon. I kissed her cheek. She still carried on talking to the woman from the help desk, pushing her trolley. “The one suitcase had split open,” she said. I took over and the startled woman just kept repeating “No more stress now, no more stress…” addressing B, who carried on with emotional talk.
“Could we take the cab now?” B ignored my question, she carried on talking, a cacophony of words about her most difficult stay in an unheated cottage at a southern suburb of Athens and the difficulties of booking a flight. While I pushed the trolley forward, she insisted taking a seat at a nearby resting area, where she wanted me to listen to her story. She discarded my plea to take the cab, as I had booked it and by now the driver had waited also for over four hours to drive us. Besides I had to apologize to the company about more than an hour of delay, where the contract becomes void, yet they told me that they would keep me on their books, until I would return when my spouse had finally arrived. I felt like a fool already, but B carried on talking and I sensed that I had to let going on until she ran out of steam. After another hour I finally could stop B talking reminding her gently that we supposed to proceed to the airport services’ cab office. The driver helped us pushing the trolley with the 5 pieces of luggage and we followed. The drive to Klosterneuburg was short and along motorways most efficient, I hardly remembered of having ever been driving. Of course the navigation-system chose the most efficient route, also being the shortest.
It took some time until B had settled down. I helped her to overcome emotions she carried inside her that returned time and again and seemed never to stop, her anger rose about her experiences that left her stranded in a cold unheated cottage, without hot water for a bath and a hard military-type bed that had no warm cover, and no cushion to sleep on. Well, B could not communicate with her estranged landlady and therefore communication through her mobile phone had been difficult, or impossible. In these three weeks, while she stayed at the cottage in Androutsou Street, she had attacks of failing strength, as she brought up too fatty food the landlady had prepared. But she could recover through the kindness of D, a friend living in an apartment opposite, who brought her light digestive food that she could eat and recover again. Unfortunately the landlady did not take to her kindly and she had a standoff with her and her favourite tenant, looking for her garments, which she had expected the landlady to keep in store for her. “Well,” B swallowed “the man behaves aggressively toward me and besides he had been in prison.” I just kept quiet, as I do not know the circumstances to all these events, as I had originally entered with the landlord, part of the illustrious family, into a rental agreement that had been endangered to lapse due to our incapacity to pay the rent any longer. As we had to stay in Austria at that time for registering our permanent home again in our place of birth, he had never answered my emails explaining our precarious situation, although he had asked for written communication from the start. Without a will for conclusive communication from his side, our rental agreement had lapsed and we had to pay five months back rent.
Therefore we had agreed to have B fly to Athens and oversee the sale of our furniture and household items, as I had to stay back for legal reasons. As the rental amount had to be paid in short time, the landlady had phoned all her friends and associates to offer our goods for sale. B had reserved certain items of furniture and lamps for us to be kept in store until we were able to take some of it into Austria, when we had saved up the cost for air-tickets and for overflow luggage. However, the writing was on the wall that getting rid of household items at a time of an economical low in Greece, meant that the goods went for dirt cheap prices and all would have to be sold to cover the high rental for five months. The drama increased in intensity as B became physically and mentally overextended, and she often phoned to ask for agreement of offered prices, although I had given her a list of items with prices and free hand, there were misunderstandings and a hectic bargaining that left her exhausted in Athens and at the same time it left me frustrated in Vienna. I had asked G, a friend to assist with selecting my poetry books and my manuscripts for keep. However as he did not strike a good understanding with B, she felt provoked by him and she let me know that I had friends that were unsuitable for her. This concerned me deeply, the more so as I could not immediately react and my hands tied through garbled up communication and only a distance of three hours.
This time in December, when peace should be in the hearts of all people, life had become hard and unbearable for me, and yes, it has been for her unsurmountable too, and a lot to ask from her, with her lightweight figure and the lack of even average strength. Trying from her side to be reasonable and nice, as she put it, faded out on day three after her arrival. Stirred up, she worked out for me that I owed her more than I had worked out and a domestic fight about money matters ensued and ruined in a few seconds the envisaged attempt of getting on with each other. B demanded love, but she slapped my face with the statements that I cannot give her the love she wants. Now of course she has been thinking all the time to place me into the defensive, so she could demand more money out of me as she had spent her surplus part on a perfume, she said she needed. Again a debate ensued about priorities of spending one’s apportioned funds on. I do not direct B how she supposed to spend her funds, but then she comes for food, I have to assist her and my budgetary allowances tumble into turmoil. Well, one must understand that we have strictly split our income from social funding. There’s no room left to manoeuvre around with virtual cash.
X-mas comes to 2014 like a red-hot comet that splits me into half. I have taken my last amount from my savings account, even if I had to shed a tear for being scolded as a rascal and an arsehole. Perhaps I am, but I beg to differ very loudly and with a raised voice that she tags as being aggression. I am far from being aggressive, perhaps quite temperamental and I flare up if I am accused for wrong reasons and with wrong chosen words. Now I am feeling a racing pulse and fortunately some milk and cocoa had pulled me back to a normal heartbeat again. I intend to still live and see my friends and perhaps being able to sell a painting from T’s gallery, to have some pecuniary delight that would recompense me. On the other hand, I am sad that I had to witness the fast downslope of a once successful marriage at first hand. This is the pinnacle of a serious crisis. As there is no way of either of us to finalize, what is a painful and unavoidable process, but with the way of recalling events mutually, when having found a love in the past that felt different to the one at present, is not delightful. Hurting a spouse with placing oneself high onto a pedestal, is not the right way of recreating a new-born loving husband or wife. To die and to be reborn is very difficult, stated DDr Fritz Perls, founder of Gestalt-Philosophy.
An early evening arrives in winter time and the sounds of the day turn into stillness that reflect the feelings of the soul. As the debate between our frustrations in marriage to the background of having lost the majority of our valued possessions, clothes, a CD-collection, A library of over 1000 books, leather suitcases, painting accessories and manuscripts, with B having lost her leather coat and karakul-coat, it’s difficult to stay completely cool and rational, and one is floating in a vacuum connected with a thin thread of friendship. B has retired again to her bedroom/lounge and I sit down at my desk and type, words that reflect my state of being, into my acer laptop, the most necessary tool acquired on instalments. I have the inner urge to carry on with my creative writing, to the end, just as Udo Jürgens did with entertaining us with his chansons.
I am unable to lift my fingers as a strange paralysis has taken hold of them, but I am still able to type. I felt for a moment like suffocating, but I am still able to breathe. B does not give me peace of mind at present, but she even enjoys to pain me, as she cites her dark perspective of having sold all her jewellery for me to have a roof over my head. But isn’t it her roof as well? I have no idea how this will carry on. She states that I already insult her for two years. I am not aware that we do not love each other anymore, these outbursts are a cry for love. It’s a desperate cry for help and my hands feel paralyzed and heavy like lead. My heartbeat is up, as if I had consumed many cups of espressos, it’s hard to get down to normal standards, without the help of a friend. I suggest to see our friend, but when we arrive at his Art Shop, he is also incapacitated with a bad cold that is caused by a spreading viral infection. Yet we talk on the phone and I ask my friend T for a small loan over the pending X-mas holidays. However I do it mainly for B, as she is in need of low-fat food for her delicate digestive system that had been attacked, besides of vitamins. We have to survive until the 28 December, probably to the 29, when we receive our monthly financial assistance paid at the end of a month.
Our fights have made us rethink our state of a marriage that lasted for 46 years. I have to quit my creative work for a while, I think, sit at her bedside and talk to her, sing her a lullaby, hold her hand and warm her up if she has an attack of cold. I do everything she asks me to, but those are only material things. B demands love, compassion and attention to her needs. I just had to endure one of her Xanthippe-type verbal attacks, but I know that she feels pain all over her emaciated body and she does not mean it, yet it hurts me. I begin to scribble on a piece of paper and it becomes a figure and some portraits emerge and a bird and the drawing takes shape with the use of colour and a ballpoint pen that renders the composition finally. I glue it to a dark blue folded card and address it with a silver coloured pen to my friend for a greeting of the upcoming holidays. Chanukah falls together with X-mas this year. Again an emotionally upset state has kindled off my creative groove and I have absorbed the fighting between Mars and the Water carrier nymph. I have regrouped and as B opens the kitchen door to my artistic domain, she asks me quietly for assisting her to order a minestrone from the local pizza. I also order a focaccia and as the glorious food arrives, she asks me to share the food with her. We eat quietly and she commends Elena, who has added a slice of feta cheese and some green olives to the order. “She is a human being,” B comments on the woman with a golden heart.
Peace had settled at the early afternoon, when the wintry day has turned dark and the dark blue of the sky changes to another inky black early evening as if it would be already deep in to the night of pre X-mas. It’s wondrous, our love has come to the fore and we are hugging each other, even if in mind at present, as the bodies are still weak.