"But you were never aware of it, Pete."
"I agree, I wasn't. I was blind to so many things Ushi. It took me a decade or more to realize that this kind of marriage isn't something that we choose. It just comes to light as if it always existed. If we are alert enough we might even recognize it. It took me years to get to this point. Olive and I didn't acknowledge that a marriage had taken place until twelve years later. That's when I finally began to recognize Olive's great capacity for loving, and the love that had enveloped us both right from the start. Nicolai told me at Ross' place how Olive had struggled to arrange for the symphony orchestra to perform at the closing of the conference. She had told him in private what her reason was, that I needed to hear that music. For this she had caused the entire last day of the conference to be rearranged. And it was all done just for me. Would any wife have done more? Olive and I agreed that a marriage had taken place that day, the very day we met. So what, that the ceremony didn't take place until a dozen years later after Nicolai gave me her new address? Our honeymoon took place in the Alps. We met for an entire week to celebrate our commitment to one another and to the whole of humanity that this marriage was a part of."
I explained to Ushi that this commitment never changed. "When I told Olive that our group had drifted into a rut, so that nothing had been moving anymore, that our bus had gotten stuck in the mud, she promised to pull us out. She made the promise without the slightest hesitation. And she did what she promised."
"Wow! How did she do this?" Ushi asked with a big smile.
Talking about Olive's commitment heightened the spirit of our own celebration.
"You may not believe this," I replied, "but the outcome of this promise back then in the Alps, was the Caracas Conference, and with that we did change the world a little. That conference was her idea, her way of getting us out of the rut. She knew someone whose friend was close to the Austrian ambassador to the UN. Also it was Olive's doing that the conference was set up to be a four-week affair. She felt it would take me four weeks to break the ice with Antonovna. She knew about my love for her, and that I called her Anton. She also knew that Anton had been abused in her early years and needed help to overcome the barriers these experiences had erected around her. Both, Anton and Nicolai needed these barriers to be removed. Consequently Olive made whatever effort was required to set up the conference as a four-week affair, even though that has never been done before. The conference was her gift to all of us, powered by her great love. Was this proof enough that a marriage had taken place? And was this living proof enough, for us all to acknowledge that our marriage still existed?"
I suggested to Ushi that we should not so much celebrate OUR marriage, than celebrate marriage itself, the universal marriage of all mankind. We should celebrate that we have become drawn into something big, by our commitment to each other and to the world. "That's what I learned from Olive."
"Oh, dear, dear Olive," Ushi replied. "Yes, I agree. Let's celebrate her love that may have saved all of our lives," she said in a voice that portrays a sudden, profound realization. "Without you, Anton, and Nicolai becoming close to one another, as the result of that marriage, there might not have been an early investigation of the death star, no early pinpointing of its location, no a meeting with the captain of the submarine who happened to be one of a few who knew the only person on earth that had the means to eliminate the threat. If you hadn't acted as swiftly and decisively, this person, too, would have been under the death star the next day. China would have been in range within a week. Does Olive realize what far-reaching events she had set into motion with her loving determination? She might have saved the lives of all of humanity. And all that came out of a marriage that she didn't fully understand herself at the time. - Yes, that is worth celebrating!"
I nodded and smiled. "But that's not what is important to Olive."
"Which is?" Ushi asked.
"Which is, that she helped us get out of the rut, and that we helped Anton to accept Nicolai's love. The rest, Olive feels, is not to her credit. She feels content that her love was sufficient to help us. The rest she credits to love itself, without which there would be no civilization. All civilization is founded on that, even while strangle it in so many ridiculous ways."
Ushi's smile brightened again.
I mentioned to Ushi that Olive told me sometime later that love isn't something that anyone owns. Love is a universal force that unfolds in all of us. We can only open ourselves to its flow and move with it in our daily life. The miracles that unfold in response to that love, came from the flow of love itself.
"Aren't you proud to know such a woman?" said Ushi.
"I am. I am equally as proud to know you. It's bigger than pride, though, what I feel. Gratitude, maybe a better term; gratitude for what love inspires, because whatever has been accomplished isn't really anyone's own doing. It's too grand for that. All that we really ever have done is to become more honest with ourselves about it, which allowed us to be swept along with the flow of it. That's where the imperatives come from that drive us until things begin to happen. If I hadn't met you in Leipzig and allowed myself to be touched by your love, I would not have allowed myself to meet Heather, I would not have stood on Ross balcony and alerted him about the fishing boat that launched the cruise missile. Which means that the missile might have been launched undetected. The whole of Washington was saved because of you. But can you take credit for everything that came out of it? No, the unfolding of love is bigger than any of us. Many people came into play that day, to save Washington. The only common factor was love; love for one another; love for humanity. It's all there. It's all happening, even if it is happening precariously. What sets us apart, you and me, from most people, is that we acknowledge it and embrace the fullness of it for as far as we dare to look."
"Aren't we doing the same right now?" asked Ushi.
"Of course we are," I replied and raised my glass of apple juice, just as we had done that night in Leipzig, "and I am immensely grateful that you exist."
"The trouble with our marriage recognition is," Ushi responded, "that it always come too late. By the time we wake up to it we have to acknowledge with shame that it has been the reality of our being all along."
"Nicolai wanted a big acknowledgement," I said. "I think he wanted to get the whole world to make that acknowledgement too."
"For me, a glass of apple wine will do just fine, together with the joy of seeing you smile," Ushi responded and kissed me. I stood up and embraced her for that, followed by a long drawn out kiss that was eventually followed by some dancing to the background music that filled the tiny airport building where we had eaten. That too, seemed like a grand public acknowledgement to me. Before we realized it, however, it was high time for us to get back onto the airplane.
When we walked out into the cold, I felt like walking on air all of a sudden, even though nothing had fundamentally been added to our love, but an acknowledgement. The air shimmered in the icy evening at sixty below zero, adding a touch of its own magic to our celebration. Even something as plain as the small terminal building seemed magical in this now magical setting, with its plump pillows of snow covering the entrance tunnel that looked like the vestibule to an igloo.
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|| - chapter index -
|| - Exit -