An unexpected kind of sharing developed from our honest and open dialog with the Major of the reindeer station. It had cleared the air between us. Perhaps the potential tragedy that we all faced created a common bond. Or perhaps, it was our concern for humanity that were backed up by deeds of great daring and caring on her part and ours that brought us closer together. We had forged a kind of a bond that unfolds on a spiritual level.
The Major suddenly was more intimately concerned with our struggles and feelings, and less concerned with the official protocol. She even came to lunch in civilian clothing the next day. That was for the first time ever, so I was told. She wore an attractive dress in which she looked so much softer and gentler than she had before in her uniform. The hard authority image that her uniform had projected, that she had hidden behind for so long, had been put aside.
"What we said to her must have changed her life," I said to Antonovna after we had eaten lunch and the Major was called away.
"No, not yet," answered Anton, "but soon."
"What do you mean, Anton?" I asked, surprised.
"She is interested in you. Give her a chance to be with you."
"What are you saying, Anton?" I asked, perplexed. "Are you telling me that I should have an affair with another woman right in the middle of our honeymoon?"
"Why not, Peter? That's what sets our marriage celebration apart from any other. Traditional marriages begin when the marriage bond is forged by the priest. The honeymoon that follows, then becomes an exploration of the new situation of which there is much to explore. There is no room to introduce another factor. No one would think of it. But with us, everything is turned upside down, Peter. No priest has forged our bond. We forged it strand by stand, made up of filaments of love as we began to discover ourselves in Helen's lateral lattice of the Principle of Universal Love. We didn't create our marriage. We discovered it. We discovered that our marriage has always existed as an aspect of the universal marriage of humanity. It took us more than a dozend yours to get to this point in discovering ourselves, but we got there. The process of discovery, however, began long agao at the tower restaurant in Moscow, nine hundred feet up in the sky. I think we can celebrate now all those wonderful dicoveries that we have made about ourselves ever since, and about our place in the universe of universal love. Our honeymoon is a celebration of that, is it not, and of the Principle of Universal Love? Our honeymoon would be a poor celebration of the Principle of UNiversal Love if we didn't consciously celebrate the universality of love. They way I see it, I think the Major is deeply longing to be included in our celebration of the universality of love. The sad part is that there aren't more people like the Major arround. Luckily for us, there is one. So, accept this outflowing love, Peter, and embrace it, and celebrate it for what it is as an element of the nature of our being as children of Universal Love."
I smiled in response. No I must have grinned from ear to ear, because so did Anton. "Isn't this all a part of being human?" she asked. "As human beings we can give ourselves the freedom to do anything that is supported by an underlying principle, such as the principle of universal love that envelops us all, which we simply cannot get away from. The love that we have in our heart, that unfolds from the love of ourselves as human beings, is the love that embraces one another and all. Thus it must be universal, and our Honeyboon must reflect precisely what it celebrates. The love that flows between us is a part of that universality of love that we celebrate. If you envelop the Major in that love, you celebrate our love at the same time. Actually, love is not something can really exist by itself. Without us both consciously celebrating the universality of love, we would be heading for an impasse and our love would be doomed to die. We cannot afford to let this happen, can we?. Of course you know what this means, Peter. It means that we have to start a whole new Honeymoon tradition, which overturns every tradition that has been established until now. Nor should this type of celebration ever end. Our honeymoon should be extented through the rest of our lives, and its celebration should be rich with countless threads of universal love, as many as there are grains of sand on the seashores of the world. Since this has to be so, why not start the extented celebration right here, today, and with the Mayor whose heart is already yearning for such an extented celebration?"
I agreed. I hugged her. I told her that she is courageous and beautiful. "No one before you ever said that there must never be a Honeymoon of just two people, that instead it must be sparkling with evermore love. That's like starting a revolution. That's being courageous.
"I am not courageous," she added. "It is by the riches of the universal flow of love that unfolds in your heart, that you find me beautiful. By the same riches you also find others beautiful. Shouldn't both be developed together? One develops and enriches the other, If you were to shut others out from this flow, you would shut the whole thing down, and who would be benefited by that? So, let's keep the flow alive and as rich and as open as possible. If your love defines me as being beautiful, and other's likewise, then you find reflected in them the same sublime elements that you cherish about me. In this way, I will be forever alive in your heart, and beautiful, and real, no matter if we are world's apart living on the opposite sides of the globe where our homes are located. By the flow of this universal embrace we can never ever be parted, since it unfolds from an acknowledged embrace of the humanity that we all share. By loving universally, this embrace can never die even if continents and oceans lay between us as they soon will."
I hugged Anton for this beautiful thought, and the light that it brought to the moment.
"If we allow love be what it really is, universal, without end, I will always be with you, and you with me, in the very image of that love," said Anton. "Therefore, there will never be a vow between us like, 'till death do us part.' This notion of death and parting no longer applies to anyone. It is no longer possible. We can never be apart for as long as we are enveloped in love, for there is but one love, which is that which is anchored in the human Soul. This makes it universal. I suspect that this principle will never change, Peter, no matter what realms we may enter into in our individual celebration of our marriage bond."
Anton looked arround, as if to assure her that she would not be overheard. "With all of this considered," she alsmost whispered, "why shouldn't you fall in love with the Major and allow yourself to embrace each other as time permits? To judge by the way she has been looking at you all morning, I would be much surprised if this didn't result into something beautiful for both of you, and maybe for us all."
"What, have I been that blind?" I asked in reply, and grinned.
She nodded. "So, go to her. Look her up. She shouldn't be hard to find. Ask her about the reindeer research. Ask her where the herds hold out in the winter, and so forth. Obviously, we need to bring reindeer pictures back with us. Here is your chance. And keep your eyes open to her. I think she is a beautiful person when you get to know her."
"I suppose I may begin by asking her name," I said to Anton, and excused myself with a grin.
The Major was reluctant to reveal her name. She explained that they had been discouraged years ago to use their real name at the base. So, rather than lying to people by using a fake name, she said that she decided to simply call herself by her title: The Major.
"My real name is Nina Tuleyev," she volunteered when I stopped prodding. "My real home is far away from here, in a small fishing village on the Black Sea. It's called Tuzly." She told me that when they were children, their parents would take them sometimes to the big delta of the Danube River to watch the birds before their migration north. She explained that for some strange reason, this image of the birds migrating north for the summer got her interested in coming north, herself. "That's probably why I became a veterinarian, and why I signed up later with the Reindeer Research Center. All this happened before the center became what it is now."
"Are there any herds left nearby?" I asked.
"Fourteen," she said. "Would you like to see one?"
"Then you better come with me. Do you still remember the size of your flight suite?"
I told her that I didn't. Strangely, she didn't seem to mind going through the motion once more to find me one that fits.
"Our rickety old workhorse is often used to supply food to the herds in extreme weather," she explained when we were finally in the air. As it was, it didn't take long to find a few herds and to give me an opportunity to use up some film. According to the script, this was my cover story. With Nina as amy guide, it was easy to fulfill this mission. Since I came for pictures, she gave me a gold mine to take my fill. Since I also came to explore her love, and she obviously felt it, she provided the gold herself in countless little ways and gestures, and looks, and smiles.
She also pointed out that she was hoping to find a large herd crossing a frozen lake that we could land on, in order to watch the reindeer close up. Half an hour later, after checking a few lakes she found one. The lake was a large one, the largest we had come to. It was completely covered with a blanket of snow, brilliantly white. As she eased the airplane down in front of the herd, the loose powder swirlled arround, stirred up during the landing. It completely obscured the herd that was comming towards us, which soon surrounded us. The animals appeared like ghosts out of the stirred up ice fog. Nina said that it would be save to get out of the aircraft when they came, since the plane and its people are not unfamiliar to them. Of course she was right. None of the animals seemed in anyway disturbed by the encounter. They stopped briefly and snooped as they came by, just in case there was food forthcoming. When they realized that there was none they wandered off.
It was frightening at first to be so surrounded, but also terribly exciting to stand in this sea of fine animals that came and looked us over and then departed. I embraced Nina out of sheer excitement and gratitude, and with a kiss that said more than just thank you. It all happened spontaiously and naturally.
Her eyes sparkled as if they were reflecting the same excitement that I felt, which evidently was the case. She didn't seem to mind the kiss. She didn't scold me or pull away, but smiled instead in a way I had not seen her smile before.
We remained on the ice for a long while after the animals had come through. We talked and even embraced each other at one point, while we watched the herd slowly disappear in the distance under a cloud if ice fog of their own creating. When there was nothing left of them to see we stolled back to the plane.
Bording the plane wasn't hard. Nina had kept the cargo hatch open. Some snow had blown inside. While helping each other to get back into the plane and clear the snow out, Nina happily managed to return the kiss. After this, of course, it was my turn again. She explained that the engine needed a three-minute warm-up prior to takeoff. Oh, this time that was well utilized by both of us.
We checked on our herd once more after being airborne again, and then searched for others. Miraculously, we made it back to the base in time for supper. The flight suites were quickly shed, and our normal clothes put back on. When the bell rang we were back at our places, but things were not the same as they had been before. Anton was right, she is a beautiful person to be with.
After supper, Nina showed me the station's telescope. It didn't seem to matter that neither of us knew anything about the stars, but the stars were beautiful nevertheless. The sky was so brilliant with them. We just stood there and held each other, and looked up into this great ocean of lights.
As we left, we saw Antonovna come in with another person from the base. She winked at me and walked on.
Nina's private apartment was the largest, according to her rank. It was located on the top floor of the high-rise. One could see across the forest from her place, to a distant lake or meadow. In the moonlight, the landscape became a world of ice castles, ruled by the evil mouse king from the Nutcracker Suite. She even had the music for it. Also, we could see the whole magical world right from her bed. She felt soft, warm, and wonderful. She said, there had never been such a visitor in her castle, as I. She had longed for it, but when she opened her eyes, there was never anyone there. "Now it is different, and it seems so like a dream," she added.
Mostly, we let the music talk for us, we just danced our role to the full, since we knew the outcome already. So it was that the dancing made the evening rich, and this, once again, was unhurried. This time, the magic of the dance was not controlled by the master magician, Drosselmeyer, as dictated by the score. It was love. It was love as it was represented in the design of the ballet. This love was a rich outflow from our hearts that went far beyond what even the best theatrical metaphor could ever symbolize. Our love was greater than that. We were both sure about its reality.
After the music of the ballet ended the melodies lingered on like an echo from the soul. It was a spiritual journey we were on, with beautiful spiritual melodies about ice castles and love with which we allowed ourselves to drift off to sleep.
The alarm clock rang at six AM. Nina got out of bed to turn the heat up and then came back. "We have half an hour," she said, and cuddled up to me. "Why is it that I feel so at ease with you?" she said. "Being with you seems to be the most natural thing in the world. Can you explain that?"
"You feel that way, because that's the way it is. We are not strangers to one another. We are part of the same humanity, with the same feelings, hopes, joys, and aspirations. Why should we not meet each other on this level as two human beings in love with the humanity that we share?"
"You make it sound so simple," said Nina.
"Oh, it is, but it took a lot of work to realize that."
"...that we are more closely connected that we think. You are a scientist, right? As a scientist you work on a platform that has been build up by countless discoveries made by the great pioneers of our past, some of which have lived thousands of years ago. The way you tackle a problem may reflect to some degree how Plato would have approached the problem of making a discovery, or Kepler, or Gauss, or Leibnitz. They are a part of our humanity by which we have become enriched. We have learned from them the process of making discoveries. In a sense, they are still alive in us. Their ideas have become a part of us as we discover their achievements and the process of making discoveries; by which they enrich us further; by which they help us to develop ourselves; by which they help us to shape our world. No person lives truly alone in this larger sphere of our humanity. However, we have become pretty good in isolating ourselves from it, and so we feel alone for that reason. Unfortunately, it is rather hard to overcome the resulting self-isolation and connect up with one another within the sphere of the humanity that we all share. Of course, when we finally manage to do that, the result is wonderful, we feel good about it. Our lives feel richer again."
According to all evidence, Nina agreed with me. She didn't say so in so many words, but in many other ways her agreement came to light just the same. Actually, there were no further words exchanged until the alarm clock rang a second time.
Breakfast was served at the cafeteria. It was never necessary to prepare breakfast for us, nor was it possible. Anton was already there when we arrived. "Did you know that the permafrost north of Yakutia goes down to five-hundred-seventy meters?" asked Anton when we joined her at her table.
"That's thirteen-hundred feet!" I translated. "No, I didn't know that," I added.
"I found that out last night," she told us. She told us that in the early days a merchant had started digging a well for water. He had worked on this well for over ten years. At this point the well was a hundred-twenty meters deep and there was still no water. That's when he gave up. Little did he know that this was merely a quarter of the depth of the permafrost cover.
"It's probably all the same to the reindeer that inhabit the land," I said, "who have been here long before we came onto the scene. Those are beautiful animals, Anton. We flew out to a lake, yesterday, and landed right in front of their path. We were right in the middle of them as they came by."
"I thought something like this would happen," Anton grinned. "I was told last night that many of the herds would not exist, if it weren't for the people of the station, here." Anton was looking at Nina, smiling. "I was told that it was really the people's compassion for the wild herds that gave this station the official cover-up designation as a reindeer research outpost."
"Actually, it had been a research station earlier on," said Nina. "Eventually, it became a sort of research station once again. The scientists here believe that the original reindeer population was less than a fifth of what the wild population is today. I think we had something to do with that."
"The reindeer have a lot of good people looking after them," I replied.
"And some bad ones too," Anton added quietly, looking at Nina. "You have a mole in your organization."
Nina just smiled and nodded. Anton told her his name, but Nina just laughed. "The boy is too obvious to be mole. He is too naive to be a serious threat," she said. "Still, though he may only be one of Koldunov's men, we have to be careful."
There were tears in our eyes when the time came the next morning to say good-bye. I kissed Nina, shook hands with many others, hugged Ivan and Leslie, and then we climbed back into the giant snow cat that returned us to 'Oymyakon International Airport' as the driver called our riverbed landing strip in the middle of nowhere.
The same old Antonov-12 was waiting there in the bright sunshine with its engines slowly idling as if the world had stood still for ten days. It had brought more cargo. More wooden boxes with tools, more fuel, more canvass bags, and forty containers of milk. I was beginning to love this old workhorse of the north that came by this place every five days, provided there was a need for it, which there always was. This time it came to take Anton and me back to Yaktusk.
From Yaktusk on we were on our own again. We said farewell to the last people of the North who had become familiar to us. The pilots and the crew of the plane wished us a save journey home. Rostislav was nowhere to be seen, which was a relief.
Our flight south, the next day, strangely, became one of the most pleasant flights that I can remember. And this wasn't so because of any exceptional service on the plane. Actually, there was no service at all. Below us lay this wonderful country that we had developed a special feeling for, a feeling of respect, supported by memories of wonderful moments and also a great fear. I treasured the spirit of the people we had found there, which matched the immensity of the place and its harshness, its timelessness, and its boundless riches.
Huddled together as before, Anton and I shared the window beside us. Looking down, we could see the great white band of the Lena River that snaked its way across the taiga. We started a game. We looked for villages along the riverbank, and tried to name them according to the map in the plane. Some were easily spotted, and others were extremely well concealed beneath the great white carpet that seemed to cover the whole world. But we spotted them nonetheless. There were Pokrovsk, Bestyakh, Sinsk, Kytyl Dyura, Isit, Markha, Uritskoye, Khorintsy, all perfect tongue twisters for an English speaking person.
"Didn't I tell you that Nina is a beautiful person?" Anton interrupted our game and grinned, and then embraced me with a kiss following. "Did you ever imagine that your wife would say something like that," she added, "and be joyous that you had a wonderful affair with another woman?"
I shook my head and said, "No, never! But it's happening, now."
"This would never be possible on any lower level than the universal level, where we touch one another laterally," said Anton.
I just shook my head in disbelieve. "With you, the impossible seems to be not only possible, but oh, so naturally, too."
"That's exciting, isn't it?" Anton added. "And nothing is faked. I am your wife, and I really feel glad for you that you were able to have that day with Nina; that you were able to experience that union. As a matter of fact, it feels wonderful to be able to say that. I just wonder how many women in the world are able to say such a thing and really mean it," she added.
"Not many," I suggested.
"Would Sylvia be able to say that?"
"Sylvia, definitely. She said something like that in Caracas, didn't she? Heather, possibly. Heather bought us the concert tickets, remember? Steve and Ushi, absolutely. Need I go on, Anton?"
"Then they all ought to join us; all of them together. Maybe that should be the criterion," Anton joked and began to smile. "Do you think that will be possible some day?"
"It's possible now," I replied. "Maybe it is even possible on a universal scale."
"You mean that every bride should be joyous if her husband finds a new lover?" said Anton.
"An additional lover, not a new lover, or another lover," I corrected her. "That singularity is destructive. Love needs to expand, and become universal. How else can love expand unless one takes it out of the realm of singularities, and one puts it in its native realm, the universal realm? Indeed, how else can one embrace the principle of universal love that makes us richer?"
"Maybe then they should all join us?" Anton suggested. "Would that be stretching the envelop a bit too far?"
"Of course not," I replied. "The principle is still the same, isn't it?"
Anton paused and grinned. "Someday, this will happen, mark my word."
"It's already a reality," and hugged her again. "It's the reality of everyone's being. Aren't we all human beings of a common humanity? To any other concept than this, one would have to say: What has this got to do with anything?"
From: The Lodging for the Rose - Episode 7: Sword of Aquarius