WHEN YOUR SOULMATE IS A COSMIC TABOO.
I’m still trying to recall how many times I’ve actually seen your smile. No, not that one, high on me and booze, and not the one from the beach at night, no matter how genuine. It’s probably just once – when I saw the way you smile around your daughter. In that moment I realized I’ll never meet anyone kinder and purer.
I remember all of your words, every shift of your voice, every intonation. Just not the voice itself, not anymore.
Everyday something’s slipping away, the order of past events shifting slightly, the strokes of your portrait I didn’t even know existed steadily wearing off.
I hate my memory for those small betrayals.
“I remember in tiniest micro details the exact moment our woozy embrace stopped being innocent. Somewhere along the way into the steppe all of a sudden we dropped the swearing and being ‘bros’. I sensed how you felt it the minute it happened.”
You don’t know this but I once compared you to Old Russia god’s fools, to beatniks and Dharma bums, to Kerouac’s Dean Moriarty from ‘On the road’, to Cook from ‘Skins’.
We knew each other for little over a week. It took me a year to recover.
You were the only smoker in my entire life I didn’t get mad at, because you merely smoked to occupy your hands with something – and your thoughts. The cigarette smoke was the feeble thread to which your reality clung on for dear life. And you always did step a few feet away from me when you wanted to smoke, shouting to me from the other side of the road so hilariously and sweetly.
Do you remember how everything started that evening at a wooden-booth café on the beach? You were getting drunk, complaining how there are so many girls around you and you’re not allowed any single one of them. You were even flirting with one who quickly turned away from you. I and the others all snickered then into our glasses. But then you looked at me. And saw.
Or maybe it happened way before that. When I strolled ahead of everybody clad in that one Sonechka’s dress and caught the glimpse of your gaze. I already knew by then. It felt like even the back of my head was burning because of you.
I remember a ridiculous movie at that musty local cinema. I’d been shoving my hand down the popcorn bucket tucked in between your thighs; you flinched every time.
Could that gesture be any more indecent? At that point I was still amused.
“That first evening, when we were introduced to each other as ‘brother’ and ‘sister’.
Probably, everything has already started then. We just hadn’t caught up with it yet.”
I remember in tiniest micro details the exact moment our woozy embrace stopped being innocent. Somewhere along the way into the steppe all of a sudden we dropped the swearing and being ‘bros’. I sensed how you felt it the minute it happened. How for a split second your fingers in the folds of fabric went rigid over my hip. I could have touched that thought inside your head, it was so tangible. Everything stopped being a game for me right that instant.
I was not your sister anymore.
I’ve read somewhere lately that you can familiarize yourself with a person for a long time, summing up their good qualities, weighing them out like a packet of cherries, split your emotions into a spectrum in an effort to analyze the extent of your affection for them or lack thereof. Or you could just fall in love, without any physical and mathematical calculations, simply catching the randomest of their moves.
These things happen, it’s true. When two already know the inevitable.
Although you fought me that night quite heroically, that’s for sure.
from ‘sister’ to ‘drinking buddy’ – to ‘soul mate’ – to ‘bro’ – to ‘chick’ – to ‘friend’ – to ‘closest person on the entire planet’ – and back to ‘sister’ again
The funniest thing is I’m still hoping to finish writing that incest novel I started before I met you. And I’ve finally found my twin. So, see? what an irony. A tragicomedy, no less.
You know what I regret? I never regret anything but this chews on me for the third year in a row now.
I really want to remember what we talked about at first. That strange night near the sea when, having come back, I said: “This man will be the closest person to me in my entire life”. What made me say it?
That first evening, when we were introduced to each other as ‘brother’ and ‘sister’. Probably, everything has already started then. We just hadn’t caught up with it yet.
I ran out after Sonya, all tanned and adorable, having spent half an hour getting ready as always. With this hippie headband, and wearing a white dress, and all high on the sea. The girls already told me there’s another one of my cousins in the kitchen I’m about to get introduced to. My life would’ve been a TV show with 28 seasons were someone to film it.
I didn’t care; I didn’t want to have to socialize with you. Story of my life, actually, “hey, you know what, you have yet another relative that you’ve heard about probably, like, NEVER!” One of my brothers-ex-machina happened to become one for life.
Not you though. You were nervous, didn’t know anyone, spoke too stiffly. Introduced yourself so ridiculously: “Konstantin”.
Out of the moment’s pomposity, I mockingly held out my hand and shook yours for the heck of it – in a ‘what’s up, bro’ sort of way. And even then I still wanted to bolt, to sneak off, to have nothing to do with my dad’s side of the family, to slip away, to not let them in.
But suddenly you pushed away the half-eaten dinner your perplexed mother cooked for you and bolted upright, wearied and exhausted from your trip, – and followed me.
…She looks so much like you, your daughter, it’s unsettling. The look is downright the same, all serious and concentrated, just like a tiny scowling animal. I think she only smiles when you’re around. Because it’s impossible not to smile beside you, knowing you like she and I do.
And you glow around her like you’re the happiest. The purest and most radiant human on Earth.
I’d give everything to just touch your stupid curls once again. To hear your laugh, to hug you.
It’s like one part of me got stuck with you and the other one died. I can’t even be angry anymore. Not angry, not crying. Just dead.
“It seems to me that if you were to die, I’d feel partially killed as well. Half my soul would be snuffed out like a candle. But you exist somewhere and it’s so amazing. It means I am not alone.”
I’ll never forget.
I was so afraid I’ll start forgetting, but that’s just unthinkable. Those memories are the only ones I recollect this poignantly, this painfully and graphically and to the dregs.
We were at the café with your family and you played with your daughter and you were so engrossed in it that I felt like the most ridiculous third wheel in the Universe. But then this warmth, this tenderness on the beach, in your room, this sincerity, this fear.
I’ve never felt so warm in my life.
I was so scared to forget all this, but it was necessary to block it. And now I’m still hurting so much as if it happened yesterday. How do you live on after something like that? When the Universe shows you exactly what you want most in your life and then tells you immediately after you can’t have it.
Like this sharp phantom pain, I remember crying in the steppe near the firth, hiding from everyone. Yellow ground and coquina, the ardent heat in the shadow of some building remains in the middle of a wasteland.
…Me, scooping warm and very salty water and pouring it on an open wound just to feel this simple pain. Just to take my mind off the actually unbearable one. So the salt would wash away all this endless poison. Its residual particles are just now finally evaporating from my skin.
I’ll never know what my farther told you when he decided to play his ‘dad’ part for the first time in 22 years exactly on that ill-fated day. Since you refused to tell me and now you won’t anymore. But what’s more important, you yelled at him for me then. You told him everything I never could. My words were bursting out of your lips.
Twins think the same. Only you know what ‘soul mate’ truly means.
And then you told me you’d protect me from anyone. Even my father. You became closer to me in a week than he did in all my 20 years. I reminisce about you all the same – because you’re the only heat that’ll keep me warm forever. Like a candle somewhere far away lit exclusively for me that will never burn out.
It seems to me that if you were to die, I’d feel partially killed as well. Half my soul would be snuffed out like a candle.
But you exist somewhere and it’s so amazing. It means I am not alone.
My imaginary friend, gone real.
The worst part is that all this time I had to smile to everyone. My colleagues, clients. My boss. My mom. My friends. Because naturally it’s not their fault they didn’t know there’s a corpse alongside them and it wants to reek to its heart’s content.
Even this entire Universe couldn’t keep us together. Even this most sacred thing that grows within people’s hearts – that live one, that exuberant, this light, and tenderness, and universal kindred spirits, this BOND.
And somehow thanks to Kerouac I realized, at least partially, exactly what it was about you that pulled me in. It’s hard to explain but you sort of live harder than everyone else. Fiercer, if you will, livelier. Like madmen and Kerouac’s Bodhisattvas, like his ‘On the road’ characters, like Neal Cassady. You do all these crazy things and you, yourself, can’t even explain why – because you only feel it intuitively. You’re just doing them to LIVE. To feel alive. It’s like you’re plunging into life from a giant cliff. But the problem is, when you dive into it with this much force people around you also get soaked. And it’s impossible for them to stay with you no matter how much they want to or how much you want them to.
…And you’re so heartbreakingly beautiful that for me you’re like a Saint, or a God’s fool, or a fair jester, or something just as symbolically extreme.
But of course it’s not why I love you. There is no reason whatsoever.
It’s just that I could bet no other person has a gentler soul. And such amazing and incredibly soft eyes that it shines through. That no one screams in their sleep like you do.
Suddenly it all got so clear to me even back then: why I’ve been so sure from the beginning that this is love, more than just love, but some cosmic kinship.
Because when something so huge happens there is no proof required from it – everyone believes it anyway. And yes, I suppose, Pasternak said that about revolution in “Doctor Zhivago”. Only I’m talking about how you don’t ask when you’re in love. You know it.
It didn’t even occur to me to question why I’m sure it’s love.
Genuine is rare. Happy – even more so.
The last time I heard your voice was on the phone from a different country at 6 am and I don’t remember much of our conversation. I refuse to count those few miserable times you called me from Moscow after. I only hold on to that one talk we had when you were 8 beers drunk there, in my dad’s house, on the other side of the Universe, super hung-over and pining for me. “Come on, go to sleep already!” You slur. “Get your blanket’n squeeze a pillow between your legs. Or do you have someone to squeeze between them instead?? ”. “No”, I laugh. “But I don’t want a pillow. I want you”. “Yeah, me too. I’ll tell you a secret, just don’t tell anyone – I want you too”.