Business Travel Share

As I anticipate my next business trip, this time to D.C. for in depth supplier training, I find myself trepidatious about my circumstances for the five days that I will be traveling with a colleague. For these training sessions, the company only allows roommate/share accommodations. And while I like the person with whom I have been paired, my biggest concern has to do with having zero down time whatsoever for the ensuing 120 hours. On other trips, there is this relief at the end of the day when I can retreat to my own space and decompress and completely relax. When sharing, there is always this element of being aware of the other person’s needs and habits. And, my own needs and habits generally don’t mix well. From early morning lunch through many sessions and group meals and functions- usually these events mean that you are “up and on” from 7am until 11pm or even later. The person I am sharing with seems a kind person but really, one never really knows until one has spent overnights with a person. So, we shall see. The bottom line is that my evening T.V. & knitting time will likely be eliminated. My morning shower and get-ready routine will be in someone else’s visual display and for someone who is very private, this can be hard.
The last time I had to share on one of these rodeos was about eight years ago on an extensive trip through France – starting in Paris, traveling through Provence and spending time on the Riviera. This was a “FAM” trip through a luxury tour operator through whom we would book independent itineraries including private villas with butler service amenities. So the trip was a daily real estate tour essentially, through opulent private homes and villas dotting the countryside and coast of France… fabulous. At the end of the day- we would retreat back to some luxury hotel and my roommate and I would turn in. On that trip, I was paired up with someone I did not know- as this was a FAM organized by the tour operator with invitations extending coast to coast. So, my roommate ended up being from New York and within the first day, I realized how very lucky I had been. She was delightful, quiet, smart and respectful of our mutually shared space. We did well with our “turns” in the bathroom and we were compatible. We had common ground with our love for our dogs- she her Cavalier King Charles, me- my Skye Terrier which netted quite a bit of fun dialogue.  Neither of us were overly chatty in the evening and both of us were so exhausted anyway that the thought of reading a book at night or doing anything, was pretty much out of the question.   One knows things went well since we exchanged contact information at the end of the trip, with promises to stay in touch; rarely fulfilled.
That trip was amazing actually.  I stayed at such places as La Mirande in Avignon – an incredible place of beauty with soft elegance and luxurious touches. La Mirande recently celebrated its 25th Anniversary as a hotel; many in the industry doubted that they would make it as they embraced traditional elegance rather than follow the stream of other lodgings that headed towards ultra modern and bare bones decor. No, with La Mirande you find what feels like an authentically French countryhome with the high level soft goods- for instance silk wall coverings, beautifully soothing colors in every room and a feeling like you have stepped back in time. This place is not overdone, not over the top- just perfect. I also stayed at what used to be the Four Seasons in Provence (now no longer run by Four Seasons; now called Terre Blanche) which was a sprawling resort with these little clusters of rooms in a villa style and an amazing spa. The rooms were so comfortable with modern bathrooms and delicious bedding.  Truly spectacular with delectable cuisine and refreshing surroundings, all framed in the beauty of Provence. On the French Riviera, I had the great pleasure of spending time at Royal Riviera in St. Jean Cap Ferrat… wow is what comes to mind. Boutique modern elegance with crashing waves outside my window and excellent service, and only a short drive to Nice, for those who want to be away from the flurry of a city but still have access to all that the coast has to offer- including Cannes and Monaco nearby. And all of this was done in about ten days- with a roommate the whole duration… and it was fine.
So, I remind myself of this and also that my roommate for D.C. is a kind woman, hard working, in the business for decades and she seems one who will share well. And, I too- will be aware of her space needs. My only wish is that I would have some ‘me’ time in there somewhere to read, write and knit. The time will fly by and next thing you know it, I will be on a plane headed home from this training expo and it will all be inconsequential. It’s only five days.  And on the last day, my roomie and I have already planned a full day of sightseeing in D.C., since training ends the night before.   It’s been almost a decade since my last visit and I am looking forward to including some new sites.  Oh, and I must remember to buy a new pair of pajamas- and bring a robe!!

Medical Memoir

Birth
1966/Maryland

Tonsillectomy

1972/France

Arthroscopy – left knee- ski accident

1987/California

Cryosurgery/HPV – pre-cancer cells cervix

1993/Minnesota

Conization/HPV – pre-cancer cells cervix

2003/Minnesota

Laparoscopy/test for endometriosis

2004/Minnesota – positive

Chemical Induced Menopause/treat endometriosis

2004-2005/Minnesota

Hysterectomy and Left Oophorectomy/

2005/Minnesota – end chemical menopause

Corneal Crosslinking/Clinical Trial for Corneal Ectasia – both eyes (due to Lasik)

2014/December & 2015/May – Minnesota

 

Chronic cough, yearly bronchitis and sinus infections for last 4 years.. Often lasts for weeks if not months. Sick at least yearly with lung infections. This last round- started August 2- not resolved. Constant tickle, frequent shortness of breath, chest pain and pressure, frequent heartburn, nausea, fatigue, voice change, hindered- unable to clear throat. Google. Results: women with HPV history and above symptoms- should be concerned about throat cancer. Last couple of months, 3 visits to doc- “it’s not serious, here is a pill”; “it’s not serious, here is another pill”; “it’s not serious- here is an inhaler”.  Give it another 2 months- and then we will move forward to further tests- scan of lungs. In the meantime, time passes. Don’t want to be paranoid. Don’t want to be a hypochondriac. But what if?  I read if caught early- survival rate is 90%.
I have additional insurance – and have had this supplement for cancer for years. The reason is that my family history shows a few deaths by cancer. Both sides of the family.
Paternal grandmother- breast cancer

Maternal grandfather- sinus and brain cancer

Maternal grandfather’s siblings: several died of some form of cancer/1 leukemia, 2 lung cancer.
Parents have both had skin cancers – fortunately caught early.
This could be bronchitis. This could just be bronchitis. My office has a few other fellow coughers and I hear from friends around that this has been a strange summer with one couple both suffering bronchitis for several months now. High pollen count. I am allergic to ragweed, birch trees, dust. Clean my environment. Use the ionizer in my room. Dust more often, thoroughly clean carpet. Eliminate nick knacks that collect dust. And try to just breath. Of course, that is my issue- it’s hard to breath. When I take a breath in- I have the urge to cough and gag.
How are you feeling these days? Are you better?
I nod- yes, doing good. Don’t want to seem like a chronically ill person that walks round with this dingy cloud of muck. And yet, I don’t feel good. Have not felt really good in a very long time.
Better nutrition. Better choices. Walk.  Move my body. Exercise.
Is it weird that even though I do not have cancer, not diagnosed anyway- that I went to a bookstore recently and headed for the health aisle?    I browsed through various books and found the cancer shelf. Within that shelf is a whole host of books on beating cancer with positivity, with good nutrition. And then, I find this strange title. Crazy Sexy Cancer – by Kris Carr. There are a few actually- variations of this book (tips/journal/different editions). And I pick one up. And as I thumb through it- things pop out at me about this journey called life and taking control and beating the odds. And suddenly, I want to buy this book. Not because I have cancer because I don’t. But because this woman has written this wonderful book that helps motivate others to live life to their fullest regardless of the circumstances- and that is uplifting. So I buy this book and last night, I am reading some of the pages and exercise prompts and suggestions and I feel good. And I commit to using this book as a jumping off point for reflection and dream creation. And then things seem brighter, better – less dank and dreary. And that is good. It works for now. And I will keep using that inhaler for another 4 puffs daily (2 in the morning and 2 at night) – for another 14 days. I will pay attention to symptoms but I will not freak out and get too far ahead of myself.

 

It will all be just fine.

A Blogger’s World

I set the alarm for later than usual. Last night, I was like an owl in a tree- wide awake and no urge to dial it down. I watched another episode of Longmire, Season 4 through Netflix and caressed Sofie as she settled into her evening routine. For about a week I have been sleeping in the guest room as I was concerned about possible mold in my room. The bed in the guestroom is ancient, flat and feels spare. By this I mean that I don’t have any sense of support from that mattress. My mattress on the other hand is marvelous. I have had it now for over ten years and still the same delicious support. A keeper. And it seems Sofie feels the same way. Actually what I think is working for Sofie is being back in familiar territory. The bedding, the walls, the sounds- all like she just got home from a long vacation to a place of uncertainty. Her entire posture has changed as she lounges on “our” bed. Her paws are pushed out in front to her with her two front skinny legs forming a channel within which to nestle her little head. Her eyes are half closed and she emits a sense of total calm and relief at being home again. I admit, I like my room so much better than the guest room. And having received the test results back from the lab which although indicated I had four types of spores on my carpet, the tech says that these spores are rating on their scale as “rare”. This evidently means there is no risk that mold is growing under the carpet but rather that I may have brought them in from outside and the end result is that I spent $325 to learn that I need to be a better housekeeper. Ok then. I moved back into my room before doing a thorough overhaul of the room because quite frankly I missed sleeping in my own bed. So I move forward with the idea that I will attend to these chores soon but in the meantime, I have slept here for five years and I am sleeping here tonight.
So this late wake up today brings me to a shorter writing session as I sit and sip my “Ringwald”- yes, that is the name of this particular coffee concoction while writing in the adjoining seating area of a local co-op near my workplace. This co-op opened about a year and a half ago and it is busy. People enjoy shopping here and the seating area.  It is busy in the mornings as folks gather for breakfast, reading up on the latest news on the smart phones and most of us seated with a tablet and keyboard clicking away. Are the others working on “business” or perhaps catching up on email? Or maybe writing as I am with the intent to post to a blog?
The blog world has captured me. I have heard criticisms of bloggers – mostly read a bit about the self centeredness of someone writing a journal about their lives, or that they are not that good, or that it is a waste of time. And I wonder at all this harshness in people. Why are we so hard on each other? What’s wrong with a blog outlet anyway? The interesting thing about it for me is the aspect of delving into the past, evaluating the present and considering the future – essentially, drilling into parts of my life to get a better picture of things past, present and future. For someone like me that doesn’t have someone else in her life to bounce things off of on a regular basis, it is extremely therapeutic and helpful. It allows me to explore ideas, and yes- pains and past hurts, but also future potential avenues I could walk down and doors that I could open up – that I may not have fully understood before the exercise of writing down life. And, with the WordPress environment, I am delighted when even one person has considered reading my expressions. I don’t need someone to approve really but it is comforting that someone has bothered to read it. This community exists of souls that are reaching out across the cyber universe and touching one another with their personal quips, emotional reflections and serious observations. And we learn from each other by reading each others work. And occasionally, when something really resonates- we touch the star to show our appreciation and if really compelled we reach out with a few words of praise or feedback. I am loving it and the platform keeps me chugging along with my self-promised daily pages. It’s a new world and I am thoroughly enjoying the journey.

Just find someone nice.

As a child, I don’t ever recall having any kind of in depth conversation with my father. I have no memory of rushing to the front door on his return at the end of the day, nor do I remember him sweeping me up into his arms to greet him. I have no memory of sitting on his lap as he told me a story or his involvement in any way of vetting a boyfriend and making sure whatever boy was in my life would keep me safe and bring me home before an appointed time. Dad was attentive to Mom but I don’t think he had any idea on how to be a father in the way that I see depicted or conveyed in the general media. But then, whose father matches up to those images? Perhaps there are some that do.
I am not complaining about my father, merely stating facts. I have very little recollection of closeness nor bond with my father. And the truth is, he was not that close to my brother either- when my brother was still alive. He tried with my brother; they attended father/son activities occasionally. He was present in the evenings when he wasn’t out of town on business. When he came home from work, it was understood that he had likely had a long and hard day so we were not to disturb him. Mom prepared him a cocktail- likely some sort of whisky neat- just one. And he sat in the den watching the news, having a cigarette- while the final dinner preparations were being taken care of by Mom. I don’t really fault him for his version of fatherhood. My understanding is that his Dad was the same way- very little involvement with the children, that was the mother’s role.
Only recently has Mom expressed that Dad regrets those years. He wishes he had been more involved- she even shared quite recently that he felt he might have been to blame, in part, for my failed marriages… for my lack of discernment on good vs. bad men. This reveal from Mom was a bit of a shock to me, as I didn’t think he ever thought about those things. Mind you, I have not asked him this question myself. Our conversations and connections are fairly neutral.
Still, these days, Dad and I have a closer connection while still holding ourselves at a bit of a distance. We do share some common ground with politics and religion – so in some ways we can discuss these topics. But when those run out of fodder, we turn our attentions to other things. We really don’t dig deep- mostly, because he doesn’t want to. He has never liked any focus on negative anything. This means we don’t discuss anything that could cause a damper on the mood. Everything in our lives surrounding Dad must be positive. He hails the book: Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale- in his view one of the best preachers in recent history.
While I don’t necessarily agree with Dad about his blame in my lack of success with relationships, I admit there is a possible sliver of truth there. As a girl, I am sure that I longed for someone of the male persuasion to notice me. Dad didn’t seem to really notice me. In some ways I may have developed a lack of confidence in who I am- what I have to offer, as a result of not feeling special in my Dad’s eyes. So I went outside the home seeking this attention while being afraid of admiration- all at the same time. I bumbled along hoping for a glimmer of love to be tossed my way. As they say- give me a bone. Drop me some scraps. Pathetic when I write that down, but this canvas for my soul has led me to this exploration- so here I go.
In high school, I was generally the side kick of some girl who got the attention and affection of cute guys. When school dances came around, I would be paired up with one of my friend’s boyfriend’s friends that did not have a date. I was basically a back up plan for certain guys. I still prepared myself carefully for the date, buying the requisite dress and dutifully applying the war paint. And then when picked up, I would beam as if this guy even cared one iota for my beauty and personality and simply- me. Off we went to join the group for dinner. On the occasional lady’s room breaks when we would all head off to powder our noses, I would glance at myself in the mirror wondering- what is wrong with me? Why do guys not like me in general? I didn’t feel ugly or fat or undesirable but for some reason, the guys just were not interested. They would joke with me and we would have fun in general as a group but it was obvious that there was no romance. Even my efforts in beautification did not turn their heads nor make them smile at me in a revelation moment that wow- you are pretty, amazing, worth my time. During my senior year in high school, I was head over heels in love with a guy that to me emitted toughness, rugged good looks and was a kind of model of safety. Somehow he knew of my affection and he asked me to Prom. I could hardly believe it – someone actually asking me out of a possible romantic motivation. Our prom picture shows the two of us in white- me in a white taffeta prom dress which had two short layers of pale green and lilac at the very top collar that went off the shoulder; him in matching white tux and matching soft lilac bow tie and cummerbund. We both look into the camera. He is holding my hand, his head cocked just right towards my head – as if to rest on my temple. His hand gently landing on my waist, he shows a tenderness towards me. I was on top of the world in that picture, taken earlier in the evening. It shows great hope and potential for a romantic evening ahead. What the picture misses is the drama midway through the evening as I exited the restroom, having reapplied a fresh coat of lipstick and powder, only to find him on the dance floor with an ex-girlfriend, lip locked. My breathing quickened, my face flushed and I could feel dampness on my upper lip. I retreat to the ladies room and I panic. I don’t know what to do. He had not seen me. But others had seen me and it would soon get back to him what I had encountered. I had to get myself together and face the world outside. I walked back out onto the floor and now they had parted, and I join him. He knew by my face that I knew. And the rest of the evening was simply tense and long. Nevertheless, this was our last date.
I look back on my dating life and see a repeat of this disappointment, picking the wrong guys. Not filtering for the good ones, the kind ones, the generous ones.

Mom’s advice to me a few years back, when we were discussing the stream of bombs in my past love life: “they don’t have to be so good looking you know”. She shared with me a piece she read about Jane Fonda not too long ago. Evidently Jane’s own revelation was that no one had ever told her to look for someone nice. Ok, that is simple. Just find someone nice.  I’ll get right on that.

Unconditional Love

It is said that one of the reasons that a person enjoys a canine companion is the aspect of unconditional love.  A dog’s nature seems to be one that throws all cares away and just drills down to excitement, contentment and sheer joy at the human’s return after having been abandoned for most of the day.  There is no grudge.  Rather, there is a body swaying back and forth with such vigor and a tail that spins around with sheer abandon.   For the human, any stress or tension that may have existed on the commute home melts away at the greeting and display of such pure affection.

Why can’t humans behave this way with one another?  Why does our experience with romantic partnerships as well as relationships in general not include such joy in greeting one another at the end of an extended absence?  Of course our response is likely that we are more complex beings.  But is that true?  And if it is, is this a benefit?

Certainly, we humans have a basic need for community in some fashion.  Being completely isolated and having merely a dog for companionship might not satisfy nor be prudent over the long term.  However, even now after all these years, I find myself yearning for a place of solitude.  Once there, I am not sure that I will be truly content.  There are no guarantees.  But as I reflect on my youth and position memories next to more recent feelings, I realize that my longing for a solitary place of my own has been at the forefront for most of my life.   I understand the draw to the hermitage.

There are memories of a time when the movie Jeremiah Johnson was at the top of my list of favorites, along with Harold and Maude.  I watched those movies alone – over and over again.  The appeal of the first one was living away from demands of society- living alone, and fending for myself.  Being in nature, limited expectations from others.  For a high school graduation present, my parents took me to a summer resort on a lake in Wisconsin.  I recall taking a row boat out on the lake with them and we coasted and rowed around the lake.  Mom was entranced by the majestic homes that dotted the shoreline.  I remember sitting in that row boat dreaming of living in one of the tiny boat houses, small quarters that would offer just enough room for a bed, maybe a table and a view.   And in those visions, I imagined myself living there with my dog.  My vision did not include sharing the space with another human.

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Much later in life, I recall describing Iceland to an interested party.  The rugged landscape for some is considered the Wild West.   For me, it is a terrain filled with raw resources and  potential for hours of reflection.  I imagine myself living in a small cottage on the cliffs, a tiny garden and a dog.   Recently, watching a show on Netflix which hails from Wales called Hinterland- the lead detective’s mobile home accommodation on the coast, isolated from the masses with the wind whipping through and the waves crashing below, seems the perfect setting for writing, hiking and having a cup of tea.  And of course, a loyal canine nearby.

Throughout my life, I have had canine love and it has never disappointed.  Fairly regularly, I receive advice from well meaning people that I will find someone special.  A gentle soul that will provide a safe and enjoyable life in partnership.  Mom hopes that he can play the guitar so that I can sing and enjoy beautiful moments of music with my true love.  A teddy bear she says, someone warm and huggable.

Until then, I have accepted and become satisfied with the life of solitude that is paired with the unconditional love I receive from my canine friend, and for now, that time is with Sofie.   Maybe when I am old and grey, it will be in a cottage by the sea with my faithful friend nearby.  I imagine this space with books, tea, a writing desk, a window looking out at nature, a warm bed, a small village not too far away for basic provisions.   This for me would be my ideal final chapter.

Unlimited Potential

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In the early 60s, something amazing happened to a young early twenty something woman that drew her to the United States of America from Norway. Up until that time, her claim is that self esteem was lacking and that she never felt special. Born just two years prior to the Nazi occupation of Norway and ending three days shy of her 7th birthday, Mom’s world as a very young girl was filled with fear. She lived through air raids and their requisit black curtains, sheltering in the basement laundry room of her apartment with the other tenants, Nazi soldiers pacing the hallways of her kindergarten with their german shepherds, the strict rules of forbidden music and radios and then there is the celebration parades that followed once Norway was liberated. From the time she was this young girl – she loved America. America saved everyone- in her view. In today’s world, where controversy exists on whether America should be the world’s big brother, Mom’s response is that the world forgets. And, she feels that younger generations that have not lived through an actual war or occupation, have no idea what they are talking about- they are arrogant in their naivete. Easy to judge. The truth is, in her view, that we (since she is now an American Citizen) must be involved- when we are not, things fall apart. Of course, intelligence and pragmatism must be employed- but in some fashion, yes- we must be involved.

The plan for Mom was to come for one year. She was sponsored by family members who had gone before her to the “Great Land”, and she initially lived with those relatives in Wisconsin. She eventually made her way to the Twin Cities, and met Dad at a social gathering of friends that were acquainted through a local Ski Club. It was an after work party and Dad was in from out of town on business- a regular occurance as Minnesota was part of his territory back then. Through mutual friends, they connected at an after work cocktail hour. And, the rest is history. They fell in love, Mom couldn’t imagine life without Jack and Jack supported Karin in her pursuits- one of which was becoming an accomplished artist. From the beginning, Dad saw her talent for what it was- amazing. Truly- her abilities were aparant in those early days.
After their wedding, she settled into life with Jack in Michigan- his home at the time. After a couple of years, they moved to Washington DC for another job transfer; it was here that both of their chlidren were born. Dad set Mom up with her own atelier right from the beginning- usually an unused area of the laundry room. She spent hours each day dabbling in oils in between laundry, cooking and caring for her family. She took art very seriously; since childhood she had always had a passion for drawing and painting. Her small florals were beautiful- delicate pansies were a favorite. This passion grew over the year, and during the family’s period living in France- she took classes from accomplished teachers. She learned many vital techniques employed by the masters and she developed her own style in portraiture. John Singer Sargent a favorite of hers, many of her portraits have the same elegance and the glazing techniques that bring skin tone, fabrics and light to a realistic conclusion. One of her frequent exercises was copying a master – it’s what they did as well.  The only way to really learn is to copy a master- she would say.   So in our home, one could find an amazing likeness of Corot, Bougeraux, Renoir or John Singer Sargent hanging on the walls.

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The likeness she renders is breathtaking and I always have a gallery page of her work on my iPhone to show- my brag book. Over the years, she has gifted many a piece to friends and family- and has sold a number on consignment; however, she has never had her own show and her focus has never been on the business side of things. Rather, painting for her has been her solace, her meditation and what has kept her grounded. Everyone must have a passion- something that gives her purpose. For Karin, it is painting masterpieces (my words, not hers). Mom is for the most part humble with her art. As is comomon with many artists, she is not ever truly satisfied and she is not generally confident enough to show off her work. Still, it gives her pleasure. Lately, with Dad’s illnesses and her own aging- her canvases, brushes and oils have sat idle. She often says she will take it up again, perhaps when it gets colder out again. I truly hope so because when she puts brush to canvas- magic happens.

 

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Nina

On one of the last trips that Nina planned to Russia, she had wanted her husband Vidar to come along, but he didn’t want to. He claimed the trips were boring and a waste of time. And besides, someone needed to stay home and take care of Stian. So, she goes to Russia without him and returns having fallen utterly in love with Christian, a much younger man. She begins having an affair with him once she is home. She goes on regular Saturday Night dates with this new lover. Out in the open, in front of her husband, she gets ready for these outings.

She takes long and leisurely bubble baths in fragrant lavender salts that permeate the whole apartment. She puts on her finest lingerie and silk hose. She picks out flowing feminine dresses with plunging necklines. She adorns herself with her finest jewels, some that were presents from Vidar.

He hears her in the bedroom as she prepares for these weekly trysts.   From his perch on the vinyl kitchen chair, it sounds like she is dancing and flitting from one task to the other with delight, humming and excited, like a school girl getting ready for the spring dance. Was she like this when we were dating? Where did that fervor evaporate to? And all this time, he sits ramrod on the metal chair with the sticky red vinyl covers, in his short bathrobe that hides a tired and sweat stained undershirt and thread bear pajama bottoms. He sips his vodka at the kitchen table out of a juice glass, his cigarette dangles precariously at the edge of the amber colored crystal ash tray, and he stares out at the lane behind their house through water sprayed windows dripping from the latest afternoon shower; an almost daily occurrence in this Hanseatic City on the west coast of Norway. How did his torrid love affair with Nina evolve into this dreary solitude? When did the spark flicker and die out? They had been crazy for each other and tore through each other with great passion.
This new episode was not meant to be a chapter in his life. But he was just like Papa, leaving things unspoken. What seemed to her to be his indifference was just his inability to express his earnest love for her. He wanted her to love him without the required words. He wanted it to be unconditional, wasn’t it supposed to have been an unconditional love?
She jars him out of his reverie with a soft whisper over her shoulder “Don’t wait up”. She makes a final pass through the kitchen. She slips into the back room where Stian is sleeping, to give him a final goodnight kiss before heading out. She comes back out into the hallway and reaches behind her back into the room to switch off the light. She leans into the door frame for a moment, she hesitates as she gazes at the sweetest thing that life had brought to her on this planet.  A twinge of raw nerves shoot through her… a moments hesitation and a sharp pang of guilt as she considers her next move. She loves this little angel and she doesn’t want to ruin anything about him. And Vidar is such a big part of him. But she needs more than what Vidar can offer. Tonight, she is wearing that red silk number with black flowing brush strokes that look like hazy fields of orchids caressing her curves. This was her special occasion dress, the one Vidar always use to ask her to wear. And as she walks back towards the kitchen and looks down at her husband, their eyes meet and hold this moment, and she sees the glazed film across his vision and she knows what he is thinking. And again, she feels a twist in her bosom and her gut because she knows his thoughts, his torture at seeing her in this dress with those candy apple lips and her raven hair swept up in that chignon. All of this not for his benefit, and she knows that he knows the strategic two bobby pins are fastened where they always are at this point of the night, ready when pulled just right that it will release her flowing hair at the precise right moment when things begin to get steamy. He averts his eyes and they slowly move to the floor and his gaze lands at her feet, and then another pain flows through him when he sees that she is wearing those shoes. The ones he bought for her in Vienna with the delicate ankle cuff that wraps around twice. He had picked these black leather heels for her on his last orchestral trip with the Bergen Philharmonic, before he had lost his place as first chair. Before all meaning had seemed to drain from his life, his passion and his dreams had been flushed away with the latest cutbacks. His eyes gaze at those shoes, a memory of what was and could have been. These precious shoes had been his peace offering for having been gone so long without her this time. Little did he know then that this trip had been his last and would be the backdrop of his downfall in the music world. His stare lingers on those shoes then fades and the moment is gone.
She gathers her jacket and purse and walks to the back door, hesitates for a split second wondering why he can’t just say it, just say it. Open your mouth. Please just say something. Hold me back from where I am about to go, tell me it matters. But he doesn’t and the ticking cuckoo clock that they bought together in Switzerland on one of the earlier musical tours comes to life with a loud and brackish squawk, it erupts seven times marking the evening and then the little man and the little lady dressed in their matching Swiss Mountain costumes come out and do their dance as they slide around their track and the whole disruption of this awkward moment is all so jarring that she simply must flee from this insane surreal world of misshapen reality.   She must run somewhere, anywhere… just to get out of here.  So she quickly walks to the back door and slips out through the back alley without another word, leaving Vidar to his tortured thoughts.
Her feet and now watery limbs make the downhill and winding cobblestoned journey to the local pub a perilous affair as she fights to not lose her balance.  Her lower eye lids well up. She hates herself for this reaction because this was the very thing she had promised herself that she wouldn’t do this time.   This pattern had now become routine each Saturday night, like clockwork.  She had once loved Vidar so very much, and she had a feeling he still loved her… but these last four years had been a solitary life, the most isolated and sad and lonely life she had ever had and not lost on her that this loneliness came with being married. She thought of all the couples spread out throughout the city and indeed, the world. How many were living lives of love and passion and complete bliss? And how many were complete strangers merely sharing quarters baffled by what had happened after the “I dos”? She thought about Christian, the man she was running to now. Was this love or merely a distraction? Was this just a temporary fix to help nurse her wounded ego and bring her back to life? And what of her communist interests?  Were those real, or just excitement in an otherwise very dull existence? Something to make her feel alive again and have a purpose?  Truth be told, she wasn’t sure what she believed in anymore.  She slows her pace, wipes her cheeks with the back of her hand and tries to get a grip before arriving at Skipperstuen on Torget.
Christian will already have been there for at least an hour and he will have a fresh draft of Øl waiting for her. He was basically kind to her, this Christian. But he wasn’t patient when it came to her raw feelings about Vidar. He considered Vidar to be a washed up and worthless old man, even though he had not yet turned 40. As far as he was concerned, Vidar had no gumption, no vitality and he couldn’t understand why she just didn’t leave the fool. Chrisitan felt he was far better equipped in every way to meet her needs both intellectually and physically.  He didn’t have any self doubts where that was concerned and he felt that Nina’s hesitation to leave Vidar was a sort of weakness on her part. But Christian was willing to be patient with her.  He had wanted her since the first time he had laid eyes on her, and he was willing to forgive her short comings…at least for awhile. But he wouldn’t wait too long, he was in too high demand to wait too long. He knew what he could get and how the women longed for him, so if she didn’t snap out of this dreariness soon, he would be gone and on to fresh options. He looked up and saw her duck into the pub and shake her head from the rain drops she had collected on her way through the typically rainy streets of Bergen. She was breathtaking, so he knew that he would wait awhile and he hoped she would come to her senses soon. He would be willing to deal with her six year old, he wasn’t such a bad kid. At least he didn’t whine and moan like some of his nephews and nieces. Nina was an amazing mother, this he saw and he wished he had grown up with as much love as he witnessed her showering on little Stian. Her gentle and soft spoken reassurances and the absence of regular yelling and other agitations were certainly a factor in why Stian was so well behaved and gentle himself. And he also knew that Stian’s temperament came from Nina, he was indeed a blessed little boy. So yes, he could easily deal with Stian in his life… in fact, he might even like having the little guy around a bit more. Who knows what would develop. For now, he waved her over and tapped the bar stool seat fervently, beckoning her to hurry up and join him.
Tonight, he would be filled to the brim with all that he needed… that was all that mattered for now, so he put Vidar and Stian out of his mind and smiled to her widely, encouraging her to shake out of what he knew was the after affects of the emotional exit she had just made from her broken home. And it helped her, and she smiled back at him and she reached for him hungrily and buried herself into his strong shoulder. This was what she longed for, this was what Vidar could not offer and she knew that this is where she belonged now, with Christian. Her guilt dissolved and she embraced her lover and gave him the reassurance he needed that tonight would be for them and that there would not be any ghosts sharing the night with them. Tonight, it would be just them.