One day my friend Y and I decided to go on vacation. We left our ̶m̶o̶o̶d̶y̶ spirited teenage children along with our ̶o̶b̶s̶e̶s̶s̶e̶d̶ fun and creative husbands behind and headed for North Fork, Long Island.
Besides our plans to chill out on Long Island, we were also on a mission to work on our art projects.
Y was working on a series of drawings artfully depicting death and decay of some sea creatures
and my work was about soldiers fighting and losing to different forms of carnivorous plants.
With these cheerful subjects in mind, we rented an o̶l̶d̶ ̶d̶e̶c̶a̶y̶i̶n̶g̶ romantic bungalow in Greenport. The place was a top secret, and the secret remains, so it stays ̶c̶h̶e̶a̶p̶ exclusive and available to its loyal followers.
Even before unpacking, Y succumbed to ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶c̶a̶l̶l̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶w̶i̶l̶d̶ swimming naked in the cold water of the Atlantic. And I submitted to my ̶O̶C̶D̶ ever-present urge to chronicle everything instead of simply enjoying the moment.
She went deep, Y is an ambitious swimmer.
At some point, I started to worry that she might have drowned, but she re-emerged from the water with a healthy appetite for oysters.
The best oysters. Ever. With no drugs, sex, or alcohol on our menu (Y is intolerant to all but a few rare and fairly expensive grapes from the South of Italy, and what fun is it to drink alone?), oysters and endless espressos were our only daily extravagance.
And so it went like this, “a self-inflicted retreat,” as Y proclaimed it:
This was the very first time that Y went on a trip without her husband and daughter, so she was ̶s̶t̶a̶l̶k̶i̶n̶g̶ checking on her daughter every two hours.
With the summer crowds gone and the crisp September days rolling into dark, chilly nights, we felt completely secluded in our private paradise until Y paid a visit to the bungalow’s manager who, as it turned out, was her devoted Instagram follower.
We did have a good time. We treated ourselves to a visit to a lavender farm and a winery.
The picture I drew at the winery had a slight hint of approaching Apocalypses. Was it, perhaps, born out of an unconscious feeling of guilt for being away from a ̶w̶o̶r̶k̶ ̶d̶e̶s̶k̶ our children?
We walked over old rails, which triggered some ̶t̶r̶a̶u̶m̶a̶t̶i̶c̶ ̶e̶x̶p̶e̶r̶i̶e̶n̶c̶e̶s̶ nostalgic memories from my Soviet childhood.
I remember traveling with friends like that when I was young. It was ̶i̶n̶s̶a̶n̶e̶ ̶d̶a̶n̶g̶e̶r̶o̶u̶s̶ amusing and only slightly less deadly than the fun that Thelma and Louise had. In my 20s, that was my idea of living to the fullest. Life after the age of 35 seemed dull and filled with dreadful chores and responsibilities. It didn’t help that my mother was cheerfully adding her five cents to my fear of growing old.
In the Soviet Union women retired at 55 only to take on the responsibility of raising grandchildren. I always suspected this was a government plan to ensure that young mothers went back to work without delay. My mother expected me to do the same. She was deeply disappointed that I had a different plan. Even though she was very involved in caring for my son, he was never given over to her the way that I was to my grandmother. In a way, I robbed my mother of her chance of bringing up a small child all by herself.
So she tried to instill some ̶g̶u̶i̶l̶t̶ common sense in me.
Well, it seems I’m finally on my way to maturity, turning 50 next summer, and I’ve never felt better, or more alive. I feel like waving to the fellow younger creative mothers who struggle with small children and their art and jobs and husbands, and shouting at the top of my lungs: “There is a life here after all, you too will get to it in some time!” Of course, my priorities got some upgrades on the way, too, and now Grandma Moses is my ultimate role model. Like her, I aspire to be discovered at 70.
Sometimes I think: What would have happened to Thelma and Louise had they lived? Perhaps, they would have settled on a lavender farm?