Today was long and busy. Up early, lots of shopping, still work to do. I need to finish the past so I can get to the present.
On January 6th 2017 I arrived at the airport in London and met up with my first wife and her husband, and my daughter. I was expecting awkwardness and I was wrong. It was quite pleasant! The weather wasn't. It was flirting with snow and as we began to board I texted Tat to see how her journey was going and she was stuck in Warsaw. They had put them on the plane to Gdansk and removed them again because the snow was too bad. I panicked, thinking that I would have to make some dramatic dash to Warsaw, presumably by horse, to rescue her. I was then herded toward the plane and wouldn't know what was happening until I arrived.
When I arrived in Gdansk there she was, waiting for me next to the taxi driver who was holding up my name. She looked completely stunning. I'd told her to wear fur because my limited knowledge of Russians is that they wear fur in some world of permafrost. So she did. And she looked like a model. When I made eye contact with the taxi driver and he arranged himself to be my driver, I hugged Tat and he said said...and...??? looking at the woman who had been standing next to him. I nodded. He looked surprised.
We took a hotel in the old part of Gdansk for the night before the wedding and it was completely wonderful. A hotel picked at random can obviously be hit or miss and this one was in a snowy old square, bedecked with oak-panelled spleandour. We walked though the old town in the snow, still decked out for Christmas and it was all rather special.
In the morning we went by train to Sopot and to cut a long story short, the wedding was perfect and everyone treated Tat like a member of the family. Even David's mother told her she was glad I had her and to make me happy. We felt a bit strange because we didn't know what would happen after the wedding, but I appreciated the comment. All in all, it was a complete success and I was so grateful to her for being with me. I would have loved it anyway, but she made it so much better for me, personally.
A few days later I went with her to the airport and watched her disappear toward security and then, with a wave, she was gone. If I saw her again it wouldn't be for five months.
A week later I was on a plane to Bali with too many clothes for too many climates. I've written a few posts about my travels but never mentioned how much I missed her. I plodded my way from Bali to Kuala Lumpur, up through Malaysia by bus and boat and into Thailand, across to Cambodia and all the way down the country to eventually end up in Kuala Lumpur again. After five months of plodding, I was more than ready to return to Slovenia.
One story of my trip is worth mentioning. The long and miserable bus trip from Thailand to Cambodia was made more pleasant by sitting next to a large thoracic surgeon from somewhere in America. He and a friend were revisiting the area after being in the Vietnam War. The bus ride was about 13 hours so we had plenty of time for chatting. Mid-journey I told him about Tatiana and how I didn't know what would happen to us. We loved each other, we had Christmas and Poland, and now...I didn't know. He said he might tell me his story if he was up to it and if I was interested, and once we'd managed the awful "Getting into Cambodia" ordeal he finally did.
He had been with a woman for years but she lived in another state. They wrote a lot and saw each other when they could, and one day she said she was ready to live with him. He hesitated, mainly because it would have interfered with his work, and he decided that waiting another year would be best. After a year he realised that he couldn't live without her and said he was ready. They were excited and began making plans for the big move. One evening she went to the local store to buy cat food and it was robbed. She was shot dead.
He said he still can't get over it. He regrets the year that he could have had with her and now never will. He told me to go back to Slovenia and do anything I could -- anything -- to be with her, because we don't know what tomorrow will bring.
When I got back to Slovenia she was waiting for me at the airport and unlike the post-funeral occasion she was the girl I knew. Those five months had given everyone a chance to stand back and settle what needed to be settled. It was now official. She could see me whenever she wanted and her husband would do whatever he wanted too. Eventually it would all be resolved.
I found this place to live and Tat said she could come see me often now! Things were looking positive. What actually happened of course is that her husband got to do what he wanted more, and Tat had less time to do anything. We saw each other less and less, simply because life for her was now more difficult. But our communication was sound and solid and we made plans.
Her father still didn't want to embrace the idea of us, but when Tat went home for a week she sat talking about me with her mum and aunt, while her father busied himself in the kitchen. Apparently she made a joke about how I pronounce the composer Khachaturian and her father said "Okay, we get it, he's not a farmer!"
Her parents had invited the kids to stay with them for a month in the summer and so Tat returned to Slovenia and promptly came to stay with me. We had a whole month together, which seemed to involve incredible amounts of mountaineering. This is what I remember of that month. We got on incredibly well and climbed an awful lot of mountains.
But the year was largely quiet. We went on adventures when we could and we were in daily communication but Tat was eternally busy. Perhaps the quantity was less, but the quality was more.
And then it was 2018, the year that her father came to stay with them and something happened at home that I don't quite understand but he said, at last..."I want to meet Peter."
A man who used to work for the KGB, was a staunch supporter of the status quo and had grown in my mind as someone who would be very difficult, had decided it was time to see who this Englishman was. This was going to be not only interesting, but major. Tat's demons had always been rooted in the needs and wants of those around her and her parents were not a trivial part of that. His request to meet me was a major development.
He had been staying by the sea for a week, so I went with her to collect him. I was, I recall, a little nervous.
[ps...Have you tried the Armchair Detective Challenge yet?]
Slovenia, writing, other things