“One day, a storm flared up, then the ocean calmed down even though the wind still raged. I wandered the water’s edge along an utterly empty coast…”
The year our firm went public, I began to feel I wasn’t in control of my life. I was spinning in a whirlpool of events and duties, of the interests and opinions of others; escape seemed impossible. And I liked my life less and less. In fact, I didn’t like it at all. So I made the decision to take a vacation and went, off-season, to Nags Head, NC – to spend ten days by myself at the ocean.
“I realized my notions of the country where I had grown up and then left were one-sided and not quite accurate…”
Our American business developed slowly. The first few years we had neither money, nor experience, nor connections. We made many mistakes but still held out until the quantity of our efforts turned into quality. We caught a break, and quick growth followed.
We hired many new employees. They were divided into two, nearly equal, sections: an American part, engaged in marketing and sales, and the Russians, who developed our technologies. Between these two halves arose an intense, sometimes hostile, opposition.
“The customs officer, young and impudent, carelessly set to rummaging in my bag. Suddenly he lighted upon something, and his eyes twinkled…”
The Yeltsin-Gaidar economic reform, which impoverished the entire Russian nation and created a small group of super-rich oligarchs, began in January 1992. I was working then at the Institute of Molecular Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Right after New Year’s vacation we were told that financing for the Academy had been cut off. All academic institutes were advised to survive on their own. Thus began the collapse of the fundamental science system of the former USSR – created many decades prior and considered one of the strongest in the world.
The further the book moved ahead, the closer the girl and I got…
I met a girl – the year my life reached an impasse. I rushed about and felt only despair, a total lack of strength. The concept of Semmant had been elaborated to the smallest details, but I couldn’t write a single line.
And here I met a girl – I saw her first in a photo. Then we skied in the Alps together. Later we became lovers, and I decided she had not come into my life by happenstance. I told myself: Now, she’s a source of inspiration, a long-awaited sign. I compelled myself to believe this – almost by force – just because it was high time.
Thus the romance was changed to drama. And then to tragedy – in a few weeks…
Many years ago, in Buenos Aires, I made friends with Jorge, a journalist with one of the city’s newspapers. He specialized in articles about cars and was creative – he submitted his reviews as the impressions of a made-up character, twenty-year-old Laura, a tango dancer from Almagro. To the soulless cars she imparted bright and precise characteristics, telling about her trips in the automobiles of her lovers and friends – along with stories of her life full of men, tango, and adventures.
A week prior to my departure, Jorge acquainted me with his girlfriend, Agustina, a beauty from a rich family. “She only loves me for my articles,” he joked as he presented us to each other. “No,” Agustina smiled. “I only love you for Laura.” We laughed a bit at that joke.
“The burden of the indifference of others is unbearable at all times. Unbearable, but you carry it…” – SEMMANT
Rene Magritte: Homesickness
Here’s what happened: I wrote a poem. Twenty lines without rhyme, a spasmodic shout into emptiness and obscurity.
It was Saturday. Rain drizzled; the month of December was beginning. The countess from yesterday, I thought, didn’t I dream of her? I felt a pang in my chest – love of others sprang up before my eyes, as if only to dismay my heart.
On the screen was Magritte’s familiar painting. My friend in black stood, wings unfurled, behind a powerful lion. The embankment was reminiscent of something – for a moment, at half strength, only teasing. The lion had known me once but made no attempt to recall it. The weight of his solitude was immeasurable.