Somewhere in northern Spain, September 1, 2011 -- It’s the first of September, the date Sasha promised to be here, but I haven’t heard from him in a week. Last Thursday I wrote and asked him what his plans were, because I need to meet him at the airport in Madrid. He doesn’t speak a word of Spanish beyond “hola,” and of course no one in Spain speaks Russian.
He replied: “I’m coming to you.”
But here I sit, alone and lonely, sans Sasha. I’m reminded of the song we used to sing when I was a kid in Iowa: “Oh, where, oh where has my little dog gone? Oh where, oh where can he be?”
I sent him another e-mail this morning:
My dearest Sasha,
It’s the first of September, and you’re not here :-( I think that something very bad has happened to you. Knowing Russia as I do, maybe the company didn’t pay you and you have no money.
But my darling, I will be waiting for you. Maybe you can come later.
Write me, please, and tell me what happened. I miss you terribly :-( and deeply love you.
I kiss you, my dear Sasha,
August has not been a kind month in terms of bringing me bad news.
First Misha wrote me an e-mail saying he was in the hospital with an emergency operation after a burst appendix. He can’t work for a minimum of three months (that’s Russia, remember, where they believe in long recuperations). “It means I am without work, without an apartment. After the hospital, I don’t know where or how I will live. I hope I can somehow resolve the situation.”
I wrote back that even if they resolved the crisis in America (as you know by now, they did), I only had enough to live on. I have no students and I am living only on my pension.
I continued: “I don’t know what to do, except pray for a miracle (and this from an agnostic!!) My god, my poor little Misha. I cry for you. God help you.”
And then on Aug. 8 I got an e-mail from Igor saying he hadn’t been able to sew up his deep cut because there wasn’t enough money, and begging me for more money so he could go to the hospital in Kishinev to sew up his wound. Also, “there is pus in my coccyx. I don’t know what to do.”
I couldn’t let him die. So I wrote that the crisis had been resolved in America and that I could send him $ 200 on Thursday. “But I can’t send you any more, unfortunately. I have little money to live on, and nobody will give me money if I need it to live. So I have to live on my pension now. I don’t have any students.”
This also means I can’t send your mom $ 200 for the scooter that I had planned to send. Ask the doctors to give you an antibiotic for the infection in your coccyx. It’s stupid that you still have it.
I’m very sorry that you are in such bad shape, but I can’t help you any more because I have to take care of myself.
I love you, but first I must take care of myself.
And then from my darling Sasha on Aug. 13 I received the following:
My beloved Dane, Hello! How are you, my dear?
I am earning money so I can live with you in Spain. I will pay everything necessary. The important thing is that we will be together.
How is your health?
Thanks for the free English lessons!
Dane, I will be traveling by plane. It will be faster and easier.
I kiss you.
“My darling Sasha,” I wrote back.
As usual, I am very happy to hear from you. I think about you a lot. I can’t wait for you to arrive.
So you decided to come by plane? I think you will come to Terminal 4 (it’s a very big airport). If possible, verify the terminal when you buy your ticket. It’s also important that I know the date, time, the airline, and flight number so I can meet you. Remember, nobody in the airport speaks Russian, and I can meet you only after you go through passport control and Customs. As for money, they use only the Euro in Spain – no rubles and no dollars. I eagerly await you.”
And then on Aug. 15, I received another e-mail from Igor thanking me for the $ 200.
“My coccyx is worse,” he said.
Pus….:-( Blood is coming from it, I checked and they told me that I will continue to live 6 months at the most . Because if the pus and the blood get to the heart, then that’s all…..the heart stops That’s the news, Dane.
Dane, the bill for the phone and the light came. We have to pay a lot for the phone. because you had to call America and Romania. 50-60 for all. I know you are hard up for money. I am also hard up, and now I am sick. I can’t work. I sit and wait for my death.
Dane, I’m very sorry that we were not able to spend more time together I don’t know what happened to me when you came....When you left, I became very sad. I don’t know what to do.
Do you forgive me for everything?
Your loving Igor, ‘bye, I await an answer.
So I sent him another $ 60 to cover the phone and lights. “I’m very sorry that your coccyx is worse,” I wrote.
It would be better if I could send you money for it, but unfortunately, I don’t have it. I hope the doctors were mistaken. They are in my opinion, very poor doctors. But nobody knows when they might die. I’m an old fart and maybe I will die before you do! All the same, I hope they made a mistake in your prognosis.
Of course, I miss you. And I can tell you that there is nothing for me to forgive. I’m sorry that I can’t send more. Say hello to your mom and Denis.
The same day, I got another e-mail from Misha saying they would release him from the hospital the next day. “I will go to my room and ask my landlady not to evict me. And then will be whatever will be.”
“I hope that the landlady won’t throw you out,” I wrote. “By the way, I think that you can go to work much sooner than the doctors told you. In America, appendicitis calls for days, not weeks, to heal. I think that you can soon work again.”
Before I had time to hear from Misha, I received the following from Igor:
“Hello, my loving Dane! How are you doing? How is your health?
I’m not so good, I’m feeling worse and worse….Mama says we have to do something. I don’t know what to do…..the doctors say that if the blood goes to the heart, then that’s all….Oh, well, I hope everything will be normal….maybe I will live another year….
How is life there? Don’t you want to live in Moldava? If you come again, everything will be different….We will always be together….and live and sleep and hang out. This last time I myself don’t know what came over me (((( I acted like an idiot ((((
I beg of you forgiveness for everything I did wrong, Dane…..I still love you and respect you….I don’t want to lose you….
Dane, one more favor….couldn’t you send more money for treatment and for food to put up for the winter….and my birthday? So I could have a party. There is absolutely no money....I can't work because I am ill and it hurts to walk. I cut my hand and my coccyx doesn’t work.(((( $ 350-$ 375 if you can, Dane??? When I feel better, I will find work as a gas station attendant; I have already talked to them; when I am a little bit healed, I will definitely find work. That’s for sure. I will save money for a Rumanian-Bulgarian passport, then I will come to you…if I’m alive, of course.
As you know, I quit smoking; I haven’t started again and won’t.
I ask you again for forgiveness, for everything I did wrong, Dane????
I miss you, I love you, I kiss you,
I await an answer.
So of course I answered him:
My dear, loving Igor, thanks for the letter. It is always good to hear from you. I’m fine. My health is fine. I’m very sorry that you feel so bad, honey.
No, honey, I don’t want to live in Moldova. I’m an old man, and doctors and hospitals there are poor. Life is very hard. I don’t want to live there.
Yes, honey, I know that your birthday is September 2. I will try to send you $ 100. That’s all I can send. In fact, I get my pension only on September 14, so I can send it only after the 14th. I would like to send more, but I simply don’t have it. Maybe you can, instead of a party, use it to buy things for the winter for your mom.
Honey, I understand that it is very, very bad for you. But, as I have already told you, I simply don’t have more money to help you. I’m very sorry. I wish I were rich, but unfortunately, I am poor and old.
I think of you often, and wish you the best. I love you as ever.
Say hello to Mama and Denis.
And then another very plaintive and poignant e-mail from him:
I’m very, very sorry that it didn’t work out L I think that you are very offended with me. Is that true? I again ask for your forgiveness, Dane.
I wanted very badly to see you….and when you came, I didn’t understand what I was doing, that you were lonely, but in any case, I slept beside you, we went to football, …I didn’t leave you entirely by yourself, Dane.
I’m very sorry that you don’t value our friendship.
And you saw me drunk…..it happens very, very seldom…..Now in general I don’t drink,.... Life is for me very hard….You don’t understand
No, Dane, stay here, you can live much cheaper than in Spain.
Apartments cost less….you can find them for 200 euros for long-term rentals, nice apartments with furniture….
And you can find work here….and if you don’t want to pay rent…..you can live with me, either in Svetliy or in Svetliy rent an apartment or house for 80 to 100 euros….and I also have in the town of Tarakli a nice apartment….if you want we can live there…..
In general, Dane, if you want at your advanced age to live quietly, and in order to look after you, I am ready to look after you…..
I will look for whatever you want if you change your mind and decide to live here….
It’s probably because Sasha is coming to you, and you love him more than me, right?
You once wrote Sasha by mistake and sent me….and I was very, very offended that you wrote him that you love him more than me.
You know, Dane….I don’t give a fuck for my own life. After my divorce, I lost the meaning of life. I continued to live because of you and Mama.
Except now you love Sasha, but not me. You are waiting for him, he should come.
I thought I was for you beloved…..
I want to ask you one last thing….Send me please tomorrow 30 to $ 50 if you can, as a loan. I have a lot of debts….I borrowed money for the dressing. I will pay the debt….and I won’t treat any more….no way….and maybe that’s for the better. I don’t need anyone
I kiss you, I miss you, I love you
I await an answer,
He was obviously in a state of self-pity -- maybe justifiable? – and despair. And so I wrote:
My dear, beloved Igor,
I’m not upset with you; but as I said before, I’m a little disappointed. My trip to see you was something of a test. I remembered that in Moscow, we had a delightful relationship. I deeply loved you. I thought it was terrible the way Sergei treated you. And then you found Ira, and lived with her and finally married her. I was very happy, because I thought you had at last found happiness. And I lived with Sasha and Misha also returned, and I lived with him.
And then I moved to Spain, and then you and Ira divorced, and you crashed the car. I wanted very much to live with you, because I remembered the good life we had together in Moscow.
And Misha also wanted to live with me, and I thought that would be excellent. We three could live together, maybe in Moldova. Or maybe here in Spain, where life is in general comfortable and good. But neither you nor Misha could get a Schengen visa to come here.
And then Sasha wrote. He said he could get a Schengen visa and wanted to come to me in Spain. What to do? I decided to stay here, but to come visit you during the summer in Moldova to see you and see if I had made the right decision.
As I have already told you, it was difficult, and you didn’t help me. Denis met me in Kishinev, and then when I came to you in Svetliy, it was your mother who met me.
And then I found life difficult. I rarely saw you. And when I decided to return early, it was your mother, not you, who helped me find a bus back.
And I decided that I don’t want to live in Moldava.
In Spain where I now live, I walk everywhere. There are a lot of supermarkets. There are pharmacies and doctors and hospitals, and banks. I live in a comfortable apartment that I only pay 170 euros a month for. Things in the store here aren’t expensive. I can live comfortably and happily here on my pension.
And if somebody is living here with me, it will be perfect.
And Sasha will be living with me.
Honey, I have already sent you $ 2,000 since you had the automobile accident. At first it was not so bad, because I had several students. But because of the financial crisis, now I have none. I can’t continue to send you money.
By the way, I haven’t send Sasha a single kopek. And when he comes – if he comes – he will have his own money. In fact, he will pay half the rent and half the groceries.
I don’t love him more than I love you, honey, I just can’t continue to take care of you, because I have little money – only my pension – which would be enough to live in Moldova; but to tell the truth, I don’t want to live there after my experience this summer.
I still love you very much. But I must first take care of myself. Nobody is going to give me money if I need it. I have to have it myself, and I won’t have it if I continue to send you money.
Nevertheless, I will send you $ 50 on Monday and I will send you $ 100 on Sept. 14 for your birthday.
You must know that I still love you and think of you often. But I think my life is better here in Spain.
I love you, I miss you, and I wish for you the very best.
But oh, shit, did I really send an e-mail I wrote to Sasha to Igor by mistake? I must be more senile than I thought. But I searched my files, and there it was, written in early June:
My beloved Sasha,
Today, finally, I received an e-mail from Igor. As I figured, he’s been in the hospital with a cyst on his coccyx. Now he says, “everything is normal.” Thank god. I answered him, and said that unfortunately I can’t go to Moldava. I don’t have the money. I said. I also said that maybe later I can send him money to buy a Schengen visa in Rumania, but I can’t now. (it costs $ 2,000 - $ 3,000)
I’m very sorry. He is not well, I know, and I love him, but I love you more, and we will live very well together. I also think that it is better for me personally, as you said. I can’t wait till you get here.
I saw my landlady again this morning, and again said you were coming. (as I said earlier, she doesn’t know that I am gay. You are only a friend, like a grandson)
I told Igor that I have to renew my tourist visa August 1, and I plan to travel there and see him.
Well, my darling, I very much await an e-mail from you.
I love you, miss you, and kiss you,
What’s done is done. By the way, on Monday I was able to send Igor only $ 30, not the $ 50 I had promised.
One final thing: Since I returned from Moldova, I have been studying my Spanish a lot. So I wrote Druzhka a long letter in Spanish demonstrating my new-found prowess with the language. But instead of the convivial response I expected, I received the following:
…there's just one thing I want to ask of you: Give me strength to make a decisive step in my life! I'm so weak sometimes... And I feel bad for this
reason. How can I summon courage?
your little sis
Druzhka, another closet case -- making us “sisters” -- and I have had many deep and long discussions about the problems of being gay in America 50 years ago and in northern Spain today. As did I, in an attempt to defy and deny his homosexuality, he got married. But unlike me, he got her pregnant. She had the daughter in May. He doesn’t really love the woman, and never has; but like many gays, he has long wanted to be a father.
What can one say? What could I say? I wrote him the following answer:
My dear Druzhka,
…It sounds like you are on the horns of a terrible dilemma.
First decide what YOU have to do. Only you can decide this. Once you have decided what you MUST do, grit your teeth, close your eyes, and do it. It's not easy, and where there are a lot of factors and reasons that must be considered, it's especially hard. But deep down inside you, there's a little voice telling you what you MUST do, that if you don't do it, you'll never be able to live with yourself. As I say, only you can decide. Weigh everything. Then what your little voice tells you you MUST do, then do it and face the consequences,
whatever they are.
Remember, you must first of all, and last of all, live with YOURSELF. Do what your little voice tells you you must do. I don't know what that is. Nobody knows but you.
Good luck, my little sister. Let me know what you decide. Whatever your decision, I will stand behind you 100%
I am thinking about you and wishing for you the very best.
Your big sister always
I haven’t had time to get an answer. So here I sit – alone. Will Sasha suddenly appear? Will Druzhka show up in mid-September as he has said he would? Will Igor survive without my continued infusion of money? Oh Lord, who’s writing the script for this?