A Voice from the Past…

Minus the waking up several times a night to nurse Eva, and changing stinky diapers, I loved my new routine.  I read several books about parenting, because I wanted to be perfect. I wanted my child to have all that I didn’t and more!  I wasn’t allowed pets, well she was going to have plenty, my Mom was not spending time with me, I was going to be with her 24/7… yes, I was determined to make up for everything I ever lacked by offering it to my child, perhaps later, my children…

The daily routine was to wake up at 6:30 AM, change, feed and play with my baby and the dogs.  Then to see Kevin off to work, if Eva took a nap, work on my book and be ready for our favorite T.V. program, “Every Day, is Mother’s Day!”  In all honesty, Eva seemed to like it, but I surely loved it so that’s what we watched.

That morning, in March of 1987, everything was going according to plan.  I was just about to start preparing lunch when the phone rang.  I picked up quickly, as my child was asleep. A click, made me think it was a long-distance call… who would call me long-distance? I thought, and immediately I heard a voice:

“This is Cristian, calling from Vienna.  I am on my way to Sweden. I am defecting from Romania, at last!”

My mind was racing, my heart was pounding hard… my ex-husband defecting… he was calling me from Vienna, after not having heard from him for six years, after all that happened, he was calling me, in all people…

I don’t remember what I said to him, if anything, but he continued:

“I just wanted you to know, I finally got out… you have no idea what they did to me, how hard life was for me after you left!”

Instantly I felt guilty for not knowing what has really happened. I felt like I deserted him… may be I did… did I?

Then, Cristian continued by telling me how he remarried and had a three-year old son.

Well, I thought, he couldn’t have been that broken-hearted if he immediately remarried. I felt better.

He continued to tell me his wife accompanied him to Vienna, but decided to go back to be with their son, even if it would take longer for Cristian to bring them both over on the side of freedom. She just had to go back!

I instantly thought he sent her back. I expressed the opinion that his wife should have stayed too, and leave their son in the care of Cristian’s mother, a capable, loving woman.  By International Red Cross rules, it would have been much easier to “reunite” a family, once both parents were out and a baby was left alone in Communist Romania.  On average, it would have taken less than six months!

Cristian didn’t seem to listened to my “opinion”. In fact, he was not asking for it,  why was I even giving an opinion? He was as dismissive of me and everything I said,  as always.  Memories from long before mounted in my heart, and my heart sunk!

He finally said he just called to let me know, he wanted nothing, and he’ll call again when he settled in Sweden. We hung up. I was stunned.

Over dinner, I told Kevin about what had just happened. He listened to me, and as always, he was unemotional and didn’t seem surprised, happy or unhappy that my ex husband had just called me.  It was for the first time when I asked myself if expressing some kind of jealousy would make me feel that he really cared about me. On one hand, I liked the fact that I could tell him everything, and he was so cool about it, but on the other hand…

“Have you ever been jealous?” I asked Kevin.

First he finished chewing his food and then, slowly lifted his eyes, and said:

” I’ve never been jealous. Jealousy is connected to cheating. Cheating is about the other person, not me. No, I have never been jealous, because it’s not about me, or something I did, it’s about the other person who is not in my control.”

Oh, I knew all the good theories, yet, I would have liked him to show a sign of being fearful my ex was calling me out of the blue.  I wanted him to be a little insecure, even if my heart belonged to him and our new family, but he continued to be distant and too understanding about the call.

A few days went by and I was beginning to believe that call was just the courtesy of telling me he was out, and I’d never hear from him.

As I was calming myself down, one morning, two weeks later,  Cristian called again:

“I am back in Vienna. The damn Swedes wouldn’t let me in the country.  They said I didn’t have the right visa and I had to come back to Austria. I am back in Vienna, I have no money and don’t know what to do. Can you help me?”

I was stunned. In a million years I wouldn’t have ever guessed this would ever happen. The whole house was swirling.. .

I asked Cristian for a return phone number, and told him to wait. I’d call him back  in a few hours.

I called Kevin at work and explained what happened.

“We have to help him,” he said. ” This man, regardless of what happened in the end, was your first love, you spend 14 years of life with him. We have to help him, send him some money. Do whatever you think is best.”

I had my husband’s blessing to help my ex-husband defect from Romania!  God, I thought, this is more unbelievable than a soap opera!

I called back Cristian.  He gave me his address and we wired some money. I also connected him to a couple, my friends from Austria, Richard and Ingrid, who, as it turned out, were going to be instrumental in the turns and twists Cristian’s life was going to take in the future.

That evening, Kevin brought me red roses…

Perhaps, this was his way of saying he really cared… of course he was not jealous or fearful. Showing such feelings would have not been appropriate for a WASP. I was learning that before Kevin was my husband, before he ever loved the Japanese girlfriend in college, he was raised as a WASP, and that was what he was, above all else. It was in his blood to never show feelings.

I was beginning to really know my new husband. In a strange way, I was learning about him because  of the unexpected voice from the past of my ex-husband.  This voice was disturbing my new-found peace of mind and motherly happiness.  I hoped I never hear from him again.

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