Soul-Searching New Year.
By ZJ Galos.
As the days of December near to its last week, a strange feeling at the end of a year befalls not only oneself, but most people around one’s immediate environment. On one side most working people opt for a holiday in the alpine resorts to enjoy a white X-mas, or to dance the last year’s night away and enjoy the fireworks frightening the Old Year away and welcome the New Year with a bang, or enjoy both.
This year end had for me no other significance than any other day, where I found solace in my world of art and poetry, or in finishing a novel’s difficult chapter to keep the flow going. It’s hard for me to finish one of my novels, as in writing the middle part, new ideas sweep along and seduce my mind for another controversial one to write. However, B and I had endless discussions about our failure to build-up a successful stay in Greece. The hope that I could make it as an artist in the gallery-world of Athens had materialized only as far as well-wishing and back-clapping went – perhaps just friendly acknowledgements of art lovers and some positive critiques. Whenever I visited the Fine Arts Gallery in Plaka, sat in the shade of lush trees in a wonderful courtyard, watching visitors coming and going, heard their comments and watched them downing a cold drink in the August heat of the historical city, I felt that I had achieved something. Indeed, I had reached the pinnacle of my art-adventure in a city, where art had a great tradition, dampened in its freedom by Paul, the apostle, who preached against sculpture and free painting, idols man should not venerate, only the Pancreator. This is how the icon painting artists emerged and carried a repetitive arts and crafts culture, until the revolution of freedom in art also swept through the culture of the historic city, where Classic and Hellenistic Art were picked as perfection in art by the Romans. I felt connected through mythology with Greece and digested it in the works of my creation, I called: The Apollo Frieze – The Ten Muses.
It all came back to me, as I passed a travel office in Klosterneuburg and an advert about the Greek Isles dominated the shop’s window. I stopped for a moment and listened to Greek music that sounded in my mind, as I watched the group of dancers with their easy stepping in a relaxed manner forming a circle closing and opening. I looked up as an elder woman passed, murmuring: Those were the days when we could escape into the dreams of a warm night in love and a blue sea which always was the same. The Same Sea, I recalled a book by Amos Oz, I had given as a present to my Muse of Poetry then. The bitter thought of having lost a library of treasured books made me swallow. I wiped a tear. Did this pain of emotion still cause it, or was it the gust of an icy wind that swept through town square on this last Wednesday of the year? I regrouped my thoughts and recalled my day’s aim: I had to bring home something to celebrate the New Year with, a drink, something to eat and the goodwill to stop arguing with my partner and clear out the happenings, which had hurt both of us from actions we were responsible for. It was high time that we made up and defeat the cause of our stresses, our hate-love attitudes had caused. Two individuals with strong personalities, who never had found the courage to sit down and talk about their matrimonial problems quietly, explaining to each other the cause of those actions that related in all circumstances to sexual problems in the end. However it would be hard to be darned frank and honest, but it also would be the only way to achieve peace of mind and wipe the slate of misunderstandings, jealousies and suspicious thoughts clean. And start all over again. Could this be done?
I would go a mile for my spouse and make her feel good and buy some champagne and caviar, just the right food and drink for the New Year. As I looked into my portmonay, I realized that I had just enough for an economical drink and some food. I had that morning visited the offices of the local transport company, to purchase the new extension for our Senior identification, which offered half price for tickets on the local ‘Öffis’, as the public transport is called here. Then I noticed that the next supermarket is located only a stone throw away and I entered the local branch of a German food shop chain. Immediately the queue of women before the bakery section drew my attention. The rolls seemed to be baked to perfection and the smell animating. I took my place in the queue. For starters I bought only four rolls, as I had been disappointed in the past with machine made rolls of the typical Austrian speciality that had advanced to a tasteless staple diet. Then I found some Pistachio nuts and took some portions in the shell. On my way passed the veggie stand I took a bunch of radishes. Opposite I saw some watercolours and brushes. I had to have new colours and paints and a drawing block. It all seemed reasonably priced and perhaps I had been easily seduced by the low prices, but of course all adds up. I had to stop and tear myself away from the art stand and head towards the shelves that stocked the wines. The French champagne offered was half price of well-known brands, but as it stated its source as Reims, it presented true champagne, yet I sensed that the lower price meant also a lower quality of wine. I took a bottle, even if we only toasted to the New Year, it had to be done in style, as my spouse liked that, even if I could not purchase her favourite pink champagne from the famous widow. Well, I thought, as I found a reasonable way of protecting my Laptop from viruses and had a calendar from a bank as a present, I could afford the champagne and my drawing and painting utensils. I thought about my spouse, her emaciated figure due to her fight with a lack of enzymes that split lactose into its nourishing ingredients, her body could not do any longer.
We had talked about the lack of sex. Well, I still had feelings for her and would have liked to sleep with her, but she claimed to be too exhausted to do it. As far as I could see that, it was painful to observe and I asked her to sit in my lap. I still had feelings for her and her slow movements on my pelvis, stirred me. I gave her love, holding her. I have compassion for her and thought about the long and winding way we had walked together. It must be now…I had to calculate the years and stumbled over a huge figure: 40, 43, 45 years? Impossible. What would it be if there is still libido left in us? When, as my Greek Muse had stated, we would be still OK. All right, I told her so as we cooked together tomato soup, she preferred with a few drops of lemon, while I put fine sliced white champions into it and added some pasta I had kept from a purchase at Soma.
Then we talked. Starting off with her questions about my Greek Muse. She wanted to know everything. Why did she affect me in such a great way, and who seduced whom, and what did she do in bed better than my spouse? Questions after questions I answered truthfully, after all my spouse was genuinely interested what turned me on in sexual matters. As we talked I noticed that she had not heard of expressions I have experienced or came across my studies of sexology. We had a stimulating talk and it seemed to turn her on, but she had no strength to go to bed with me and I did not have the strength to masturbate for her, which she also then discarded as a solution to our get-together-sex, as she called it. Well, let me hug you, I said, It’s good for the time being as you feel better with my love that comes from the heart. She agreed and we felt better. We exchanged our sexual experiences and the talk had freed us from guilt, not having talked about it for years. Finally, we sat on our bed and I warmed her toes with my fingers. It relaxed her, but she still wanted to have more sedation and she asked for having my cellular phone, to listen to the radio. This relaxed her and she could fall asleep. I remove my phone from her bed and the earphones from her hands holding them to her ears. She stirs, murmurs something, turns around and carries on sleeping. I tiptoe to the bathroom and brush my teeth. Slipping into my pyjamas I move quietly to my side of the double bed and crawl below the covers.
I cannot fall asleep. I think of B ordering Greek specialities from a Delicatessen in Vienna and Kostas, the shop owner delivering her the halva. Then B complains that the selected food, she swears on to aide her weak heart, is rather expensive. She looks at my selection of food I collect from the social market and wonders how cheaply I am living compared to her. Well, I am not complaining eating food that has expired a few days ago. That way it is going for a third of the price compared at the supermarkets. However, as B cannot eat what I can, she is handicapped and should accept that. I have tried too many times to compromise, but she remains dug into her opiniated trenches of how one supposed to live healthy. I have other priorities. If I collect my yoghurt and muesli, fruit, and Walnut or Poppy seed cake, I have to think of Dolfi, a friend’s father, who flung himself onto a rubbish dump with his prison mates of the Auschwitz concentration camp to dig into rotten food, when the Red Army freed them. That’s really hunger! So, when I have only a few things to eat, I am always grateful, having that picture of inmates feasting like cockroaches of the food rests.
It’s more difficult to come to terms with B. Yesterday afternoon we had a fight starting out with a small, unimportant thing asking for our different views. B cannot take critical discussions and she’ll flare up if I disagree. Then she works herself up into a tizz, dresses and walks in the cold air for an hour. So, I have to keep quiet and write my journals and memoirs for dealing with such a state of emotions. In the immediate past I had found a Muse, who sent me prompts and who agreed to a discreet love affair that did us both a world of good. I realized that I had never before been loved in a way that relaxed me mentally and physically completely. A revelation, a wonder, a lottery ticket, name it what you’d like, certainly it had been the love of my life. But then, I would not leave B, as Anne would not leave her family either. How long will a fired-up love affair last, a few months, a year, perhaps two to three years? No wonder marriages don’t last on libido alone, except for the responsibility for one’s family. Ideally one supposed to have two liaisons, I am thinking about the artist Ernst Fuchs, who had three wives. Interesting that they all respected each other and that way could get on with each other. I tell B and she looks at me. She has immediately the answer: Then I would also like two more men. Sure, I would not deny it to her, but all this is pure theory. It works for some and not for others, as free love is complicated and it’ll always hurt somebody in the circle.
B is strange. I invite her to my bed, as she claims that she has cold feet. Warm them up against me, I say to her and she slips into bed next to me. I am still half asleep and her leg movements arouse me. B should have noticed that as she moves against me, yet she has no need to touch me and enjoy my virility. It’s amazing. She fetches my cellular phone and listens to Hit-radio, moving her legs rhythmically against my thighs. Does she think this is a good foreplay for making love? She is not interested in sex any longer and I dislike to be teased all the time. It has been a mistake to share my mobile phone with her. Now she has something to place between us again, when it comes to physical love. Then she wants to talk to me again. I go to the bedsitter and sit down opposite her. She wants to know why I have been happy with Anne. I explain to her that we understood each other mentally, physically and became soulmates. We both loved poetry and writing, similar foods, movies, music and mythology. Yes, if we would have met earlier in life, we definitely would have created children together. Perhaps earlier in life I thought of Simchi, I grew up with exploring sexual love together as students, of having children with her. Later in life, when I worked as an septuagenarian artist in Athens, A young lass asked me if I would have children with her. I had to deny her request, impossible to be a functional father at that age, I thought, but Val thought rather differently. Did she wish to get away from her family, where she had no privacy, locked-into a small room and fighting for a way forward? I had heard such a similar case from Anne’s girlfriend, who did just that.
Up to now even to have a New Year’s resolution for domestic peace is absurd. It’ll never work. The only way forward is to have more respect for each other and unfortunately I have to stay at arm’s length to B’s emotional conundrum. How else would I be able to bear the situation her manic depressive mood swings? I have become the bouncer for her emotional overdrive. If she has no intention for following through with the sexual act, I have to find myself another person. But as I had some experiences with that, I rather stay put, write and draw and pour my energies into the art of writing, drawing and painting. This’ll do just fine as long as we go our separate ways of our daily routines. While B will ate breakfast I usually still sleep. While I prepare breakfast, she reads and when I am finished with my morning toilette, I will then work in my domain on translating my latest memoir-style novel, or something new following a trend that rushes through the world of writing. However, I might be influenced, but I still have my own style. While she baths I will prepare for lunch and cook a soup or eat a sandwich. Then I will stretch my legs for a walk that’ll take me an hour. I usually combine it with shopping some groceries, if I run out of something, especially bottled water. Local tap water is horrendously saturated with calcium and impossible in taste and use for cooking.
Today on the third day of the New Year 2015, we have returned to the trenches of our individual emotional lives. Perhaps B blames me for having been relaxed this morning, after she stayed in bed with me. Sure, we had no sex, but we also had no fight, until she started to take my smartphone and became angry that she could not follow my instructions. This argument went on and she adopted a cynical approach, appearing every few minutes in my door and talking down to me. Disrupting me, I told her what I would have needed in bed. Damned! B became insulting and provocative about my affair with Anne, she had met and stayed at her cottage at the sea. However she tolerated it all and now she exhumed the story just to hurt me. I am sad that B does not try being pleasant to me and start off on a positive approach to sexual love, whatever form it will take. Blaming a partner for everything one is lacking, makes neither good friends, nor good bedfellows. B will intensify her attacks and throw at me the might of her abuse: Go and fuck yourself! OK, if she wants to remain friends and have accepted my extramarital liaison before, why now become abusive. Obviously as we both had extramarital partners before, means that we have a poor understanding of each other in physical love. I muse about our long and winding road of marriage and wonder why B is provoking me threatening me with leaving me from one day to the next, if she had found a soulmate in E, when even her mother told her to leave me for him? Besides I had offered her for leaving too, but B did not have the courage to cut off her ties to me. Asking her about this, she repeats: Because I love you.