Edit Blog Post
Published: September 11th 2009
My muse, my wife, my Fiona has recently gone through an accelerated grieving process over the loss of her dearly beloved Asia. As witness to this painful process, I felt it was my duty to document its progression. I now offer my observations to you in the hopes that by reading this account and viewing these images you may feel that you shared, in some small part, in Fiona's path from the depths of denial and anger, through the purgatory of bargaining and depression and into that promised land of acceptance.
Initially my poor misguided darling believed that the comforts of returning to the western world would be a welcome escape from the alien customs that proved a daily trial to her in her years of Asian living. So, insidiously, her grieving process first manifested itself as a song in her heart, a hearty laugh, and a giddy bounce in her step. How was she to know that these outward manifestations of elation were but a cruel mask hiding the subconscious pain of separation from that great motherland of Asia? Her denial was so complete that at first even I thought that perhaps these signs of happiness
were genuine. Perhaps she really was glad to see the back of the Orient. How wrong I was. Her laughs were but the the psychological analogues of the clickety-clack of a roller-coaster ratcheting itself up towards that first steep, terrifying drop.
True to the classic grieving formula, Fiona's denial quickly gave way to rage. In her case, this stage was fueled with alcohol and targeted all those unlucky souls cooped up with her in train cars on the Trans-Siberian Railway. There was no escape for hour upon hour upon hour as the days and Siberian scenery crawled by. As an attempt to escape her glare I hid behind my camera and so was able to capture the very moment when Fiona's psyche lurched from denial into anger. It was as if a bear had been awoken from its Winter's slumber by a crowbar to the nose. A truly frightening moment. Observe the last glint of joy vanishing from her rolling eyes. Note the snarl in her lips, the snap to her wrist. Don't fail to notice too that green bottle forgotten just for a moment and dangerously canted in her paw, I mean hand.
As anyone who has traveled the tortuous trail of the grieving process knows, the venting of anger serves only to exhaust the unfortunate emoter. It can in some cases also lead to the unfortunate side effect of driving off those who are there to help. I was able to withstand the barrage for some time but eventually sneaked off to the dining car for a moment of peace. However the train was not overly large and in short order Fiona found me to announce, though she did not know it, that she had entered the next grieving stage, bargaining. She was here to make a deal. Stalling for time, I pretended to take photos of my lovely bride and so was lucky enough to capture the moment in which she completed her generous offer and awaited my affirmative (the outcome was a foregone conclusion in her mind) response. Who could turn down someone so beloved, and so innocent of the knowledge of their own, thankfully temporary, insanity? Could you say "no" to that face? In exchange for her half-finished beer she has just suggested that I hijack the train and immediately return us to China where we can
live out the rest of our lives happily as dumpling restaurant owners. She suggested we evade capture for our train hijacking by adopting Russian soldier disguises which we could procure by pummeling guards with her ample beer bottle collection. The tilt to her head says, "See how reasonable I am in having accounted for every possible contingency?" This put me in an tight spot. I could neither accept her offer, due in large part to my inability to drive a train or cook dumplings, nor could I turn her down as the violent outburst to follow was too terrifying to contemplate. Diplomatically, I lied. I shot to my feet and claimed that I was setting out immediately to enact her excellent plan, when in reality I spent the next two days cowering in the first class bathroom, fearing discovery at any moment by my enraged bear-wife.
When we finally reached Irkutsk and the lovely shores of lake Baikal I was forced to decamp from my toilet sanctuary and confront my scorned lady. She was none too happy to see me. Days of being dragged relentlessly further from Asia's bosom had driven her from car to car
of the train attempting to find someone to help her storm the engineer's compartment at the head of the train. Having exhausted her options on this front she had come to the worrying conclusion that if you want something done right, you had best do it yourself. I found her huddled at the foot of the locked door leading to the control room weeping pitifully, knuckles bloody. Her bargaining a failure, she had slid into a deep and pathetic depression and what's worse she blamed me in large part. What kind of a husband abandoned his wife in the midst of the execution of such a daring and brilliant plan? My short-sightedness and cowardice at the moment of truth had stolen the happiness that was nearly in her grasp. Also she was out of beer and money. In an attempt to cheer her up I thought a little trip to the lake-side, a little snack, and a drink would be a good idea. The offer of a beautiful smoked fish straight from the lake and a beer did little to cheer her though and she remained in a stony silence for many days. It was a dark time for both of us.
It is always darkest just before the dawn and Fiona's whole-hearted submission to the throes of depression counter-intuitively heralded the end of her grieving process. By the time we reached St. Petersburg, Fiona had taken the first tentative steps out of her silent shell and was beginning to resemble her old self again. She will perhaps never return entirely to her former self, but she has surely grown wiser and more worldly. The dark, icy waters of the canals and rivers of St. Petersburg no longer call to her with the lure of sweet release the way they once did. Perhaps the West is a place in which she can survive, who knows, maybe even thrive. In any case, Asia will always be there, a warm dumpling of crazy nestled in her heart.
Tot: 1.359s; Tpl: 0.052s; cc: 10; qc: 66; dbt: 0.0351s; 1; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb