Love love love
The book about Russian author and lepidopterist, Vladimir Nabokov, and his wife Véra caused a bit of a disaster. A friend gave me a free pass to his fancy gym and I brought Véra (written by Stacy Schiff) to admire even amidst Southern California’s good-looking. Having only reached page 10 out of the 400 page book, I did not expect to already read excerpts of Vladamir’s passionate letters. His first letter to Véra:
I won’t hide it: I am so unused to the idea of people, well, understanding me—so unused to it that in the very first minutes of our meeting it seemed to me that this was a joke, a masquerade deception…There are just some things that are difficult to talk about—one brushes off their wondrous pollen by touching them with words…Yes, I need you, my fairy tale. For you are the only person I can talk to—about the hue of a cloud, about the singing of a thought, and about the fact that when I went out to work today and looked each sunflower in the face, they all smiled back at me with their seeds.
Even though it is described that “the Nabokovs came—and went—as a couple”, there were times Vladimir had to live away from Véra due to work. Here is another letter he wrote when separated from her:
Have you ever thought about how strangely, how easily our lives came together? And this is probably that God, bored up in heaven, experienced a passion he doesn’t often have. It’s as if in your soul there is a preprepared spot for every one of my thoughts…You came into my life and not the way a casual visitor might, but as one enters a kingdom, where all the rivers have waited for your reflection, all the roads for your footfall.
and in 19 August 1924:
Oh my joy, when will we live together, in a beautiful place, with a mountain view, with a dog yupping outside the window? I need so little: a bottle of ink, and a spot of sunshine on the floor–oh, and you. But the last isn’t a small thing at all.
My emotions were stirred in these moments amongst the bass thumping of workout music, clanking of dumbells bigger than my head, chatter of people-watchers, and so I started crying. Such words triggered my deep longing to be with the one I love separated from me by a huge ocean. Because I started crying, my nose started running faster than my legs cycling the stationary bike. Which led to incessant sniffling to result in a headache and a much shortened workout.
The book also contains witty exchanges by the two such as when Véra began getting white hairs and Vladimir stated,”People will think I married an older woman”. In response, Véra said, “Not if they look at you.”
And at times the couple would be leading a Russian literature course they and would get into a debate until Vladimir conceded with the words:
Darling, you’re absolutely right, you’re absolutely right.
The biography states that “Vladimir’s verbal caress was a simple and perpetual Darling” and “that there was nothing remotely casual about his use of the appellation”.
Observers note the hardly sedate marriage in action:
“They are mating like butterflies behind any bush right in the middle of the conversation, and they separate so quickly that one doesn’t notice until later.”
Then on July 2, Vladimir passed away and left a distraught Véra who wrote:
So much more grim for those who remain than for those who have gone on.
and uttered desperately to her son, Dmitri:
Let’s rent an airplane and crash
Recently, I watched an excellent movie (with a nice twist in the end!) that revolves namely on the traditions of savory Taiwanese cooking, called Eat Drink Man Woman. The most comical was watching the irritating Mrs. Liang who reminds me of my own relatives inquiring and pressuring me about marriage.
I have come across several articles from The Atlantic, The Guardian, and TIME about studies displaying a trend in men more attracted to women with the three “highs”:
Thanks to my own hard work I have achieved #1 and #2 with #3 far in sight. Years before, I declined a marriage proposal by an ex-boyfriend and I am still not in a big hurry to tie the knot because love defines a future together. Marriage is just another event in that future.
If you are in love…don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.
Dimitri, son of the Nabokovs, explained that he did not marry because he knew “how uncommon was the rapport his parents had enjoyed, what an elusive rarity is the twin soul”. Perhaps Dmitiri inherited this trait from Véra who “has a tendency to focus on the negative side of things”? Vladimir wrote an unpublished, untitled poem to Véra when she would have doubts about their relationship:
I feel pain from your corners
Love me without hesitation
Without these numerous torments
Do not abbreviate the encounters
Or dream up any separations.
I agree love is a rarity, and marriage is just another option to celebrate that rarity. And so maybe we should heed the advice of a fellow blogger who nominated me for yet another award.
The title of this post is inspired by a song of the same title by “Of Monsters and Men” whose latest album I am listening to (….repeatedly to the point of memorization) while on the way to see parents in Oahu. The song lyrics go a little like this:
The the folkie-pop style of this band influenced the choice of my current read by JD Salinger whose title sounds like the name of a folk band as well — Franny and Zooey.
When I land in Honolulu, I will see another guy I love: