Russia and Love


*Don't forget that from now on Tuesdays on AOW are Two Post Tuesdays - pop back and read Clare's bump update from this morning if you've not yet read it*


What I love, truly love, about this post by Emily is how natural and organic it is. She drifts seamlessly from talking about her love and respect of a beautiful country, to the love and respect she feels for her future husband. There is weight and feeling and honesty in every word and it's a gorgeous read. Readers, enjoy.



I’ve always had a thing about Russia, about the literature, the art, the music, the live-for-today hedonism that is so far from my caution.  I love the Russian attitude to culture and how pervasive it is in the lives of normal people; I love that I became friends with my Russian teacher, Olga, a clever but fairly normal girl in her twenties, because we both devoured Iris Murdoch’s novels.  



My Russia obsession (and it did grow into this) really started when I read The Russia House at school during a Le Carre binge (I also have a thing for spy stories and murder mysteries, but ones with minimal blood and guts – Dorothy L Sayers, not the Dragon Tattoo.  I wanted to be married in a dress of cloth of gold like Harriet Vane but unfortunately it made me look jaundiced…I digress)I was impressionable, unsettled having moved school, and at around the same time I met Sarah, who was doing Russian A level and dressed with a whiff of the romantic East of Richard Burton and Gertrude Bell.  She played chess and drank vodka and made me realise that there are different ways to be and that being in the “cool” (pretty and sporty) set wasn’t the only way to be. 

I want need a friend who looks like this.


So, 10 years later, when the downturn hit in London and the firm was shipping people off to Hong Kong and Singapore, I said I’d like to go to Moscow.  And they looked slightly aghast, and I insisted.  And two months later I was there, living in a flat with the biggest black leather sofa I hope ever to see, knowing no-one, working at a Russian bank and with what could kindly be described as a patchy knowledge of the language.  I loved living in such a different place, indescribably different and I loved discovering what was behind the façade of both the city and its inhabitantsI think I had glimpses of Natasha Rostov.  But I was incredibly homesick for my family and friends and for England, for craggy hills and stone walls and the softer light.


I came home in the middle of March 2009.  The sun shone as I ran along the Thames and I felt my way back into my old life in my little flat in West London.  And then I met Keith.  He took me out for dinner, and to an exhibition at the V&A;, which was special because it was curated by a brilliant friend of mine, after which we drank too much wine and I desperately hoped he would kiss me.  He did.  And then he took me out again, and we started alternating weekends in Hampshire, where he lived, with ones in London, where I doWherever we were, we walked and cooked and talked, and gently, gradually, fell in love.




That autumn we were pottering round an antique shop looking for furniture for the house I had just bought and I spotted a beautiful ring, three diamonds, slightly offset.  In passing, because we hadn’t even thought of permanence, I commented on its prettiness.  And, 18 months later in a fort in Ireland on another clear sunny day in June, that ring became my engagement ring.


Keith is a Chaplain in the Forces.  I work in the City.  He is gentle and slow and thoughtful and perceptive.  I am quick tempered, a perfectionist, a worrier prone to panic.  Or rather I was because now I know he is there, I take time to stop and stare, I can stop doing things just to prove to myself that I am capable (not everything, but running half marathons and moving to difficult cities alone).  I am more considerate, more thoughtful, more careful.  Not because he is a saint or because I am becoming one but because his steady love has changed me and because I want to be the wife he deserves.  We will go on our next adventure together, creating our home as we go (with rather more flowery curtains and spotty mixing bowls than Keith might have bargained for) and will have less to sicken for.

Categories: Books, Engagement, Family, Friends and Relationships, Life Experience, Travel
8 interesting thoughts on this

8 Comments

  1. Posted October 11, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Emily, you write so elegantly.

    Your last paragraph could have been written for my husband and I; not that we differ in those characterists per se, but about his steady love changing you and wanting to be the wife he deserves. Mr K has been steadfast from the beginning and has never once wavered, unlike me who has been like a squirrel on crack, running in one direction then another, always coming back to him. And wanting to become the wife they deserve; that's the secret of a good marriage to me. Aspiring to be what your partner deserves; and recognising that you very probably already are.

    One more point…Russia pulls people in, doesn't it. My best friend is living there at the moment. She decided one day to learn Russian and she just went and she never left…she's even doing her PhD in Russian politics. I've only ever been travelling once and saw how seductive Russia can be. I've never experienced the flip side, though….only the romance.

  2. Millie T
    Posted October 11, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    I found this blog via google about an hour ago-searching for something not entirely unrelated, but that's by-the-by…. I've spent the last hour reading and had to cone back to the first post I read to say that Emily, you write so beautiful and I'm so in awe of your exciting life! My new husband is in the forces too, an engineer in the RAF, and it's been exciting and confusing and lovely and scary getting used to being an 'army wife'…much the same emotions as when I first met Tim!

    Anyway, lovely stuff. Thank you for brightening up my dreary Tuesday afternoon!

    Millie T xox

  3. Posted October 11, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    Lucky lucky you to have started your Russian love early in life. Mine has come later, through Anna Karenina and Warmth. Although I can now look forward to planning and travelling there together.

  4. Posted October 11, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    Lucky lucky you to have started your Russian love early in life. Mine has come later, through Anna Karenina and Warmth. Although I can now look forward to planning and travelling there together.

  5. Posted October 11, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for saying kind things and to AOW for posting this. It is my first post on anything, so quite terrifying! It is a big jump from meandering thoughts so comforting to have some feedback!

    Anna, I think lots of people would say a squirrel on crack is very apt!

    Emily

  6. Posted October 11, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    Oh Emily, still get goosebumps reading this for the second time. I am so proud of you for following your heart and sharing your beautiful words. Even prouder because this is the first post on AOW by one of my brides! Cannot wait to photograph your wedding next year x

    Ps. More posts please!

  7. Posted October 11, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    Oh Emily, still get goosebumps reading this for the second time. I am so proud of you for following your heart and sharing your beautiful words. Even prouder because this is the first post on AOW by one of my brides! Cannot wait to photograph your wedding next year x

    Ps. More posts please!

  8. Mahj
    Posted October 12, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    This is beautiful.

    That is all.

    xoxo

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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