Smalltown Austria, bordering on rural, really. The population of 8.000 mostly blue collar workers or farming folk. Very Roman Catholic. The spot comes on to highlight one odd family of five. The father, a baker by profession, leader of a small, rather extreme Christian sect with an urge to evangelize the world, the mother a maniac-depressive (surprise, surprise). The three kids, girl, boy, tiny girl, born into this scheme of suppression, being frowned at, being different.
Now let’s assume, the following is true:
The illness of the mother an extra load on the eldest, who not only has to make sure, the mother isn’t going to kill herself during her throughs, never able to live up to expectations during the highs but also having to care for the little ones and somehow cope with the father’s patriarchic view of how a proper household should function. Eager to please. Stood up on a stage, whenever a good sample for the congregation is needed. As she likes the sciptures, is good with words. Untill she notices, that as of a certain age, it is a burden to not be male. Women seemingly are a lower class of humans and not presentable, no matter what they did and how good they were at it. When the school teachers force the parents to let her attend a better school, she all of a sudden notices, that outwith her own congregation lived real humans with a heart and kindness in it, offering help. She has grown up looking at such people cautious, if not with scorn, only valuable as a mass to win over for the bible’s teachings. Otherwise, this people were to be avoided at all cost, as they are considered bad influence and sinners. Eventually, enough doubt amasses, so the girl questions her father about a few things. Who runs out of plausible arguments. This is a start, don’t you agree? A year later financial pressure rises on the family, so the eldest is taken out of school to learn a trade and earn a little. This is, how the girl ends up working in the neighbouring town, a little bigger than her birthplace.
Now, it might well be, that having some independence and a little money to herself helps along the next little imaginary episode. One evening she notices a boy standing on a corner on her way to catch the last bus home to her parent’s place after work. Every evening she notices the same boy, standing on the same spot. It dawnes on her, that she has met him before. A customer. After a while there was a friendly nod, as she passes him. And one day the boy addresses her. Asks, if he could walk her to wherever it was she was heading to. Let’s assume, she agrees and this is what happenes next: The boy tells her, he is standing on this corner every evening just to catch a glimpse of her, ever since he first met her on this little business transaction. She falls in love with the boy. On a daily walk taking maybe fifteen minutes, including the wait for the bus. Eventually, she is to attend a two-months schooling in the county’s capital. To bring the story along, she takes this opportunity to get some freedom away from home and family, lies to her parents about having to stay at school for a weekend wereas she spends it with the boy. The inevitable happens. But also the unexpected. Not educated in such matters, contraception is something outwith her grasp. She never even notices, she is pregnant untill she pukes her guts out every morning. This is, when panic infests every cell of her. The boy tries to calm her. Everything is fine. They would marry. Indeed, there was even a place they could stay at. So, what was the problem? He never learns about the guilt, the torture she puts herself through. Not able to talk to her parents about it. The certain doom, she believes herself to be in. In her despair she decides to wait until the pregnancy would show and then she would deal with whatever happens. Feeling a little comfort in knowing, that if push came to shove she still has the boy to run to. To put a little drama into this wild collection of far off assumptions, a severe attack of rotella puts an end to all of that. The pregnancy fails, leaving her very ill in a hospital, unable to contact the boy, unable to talk to anybody, unable to cope. Worse even, her mother finds out about what had happened. Being too scared to confront her own husband with the situation, the mother makes her daughter promise to come back home from the hospital and never see the boy again, if the girl wants to get away with the unspeakable sin. Avoid being discussed by the father, the elders in the church and the entire horror of being dispelled from the congregation. All she has to do, is to repent and a warm bed and a mothers care would await her. Being too weak to face anything else, the girl promises just that. Determined to be good from now on in, she tears her own heart out. Resisting every desperate attempt of the boy to get through to her. Up to the point when she has to tell him in person she doesn’t wish to see him again. Quite hard, don’t you agree? However, all efforts of being good end in vain. A year or so later she leaves home and family for good, as her entire being revolts against the religious restrictions. She is unable to see the point of it any longer. There is no heart in it, no forgiveness, no consolation for her guilt. Nothing of it holds anything of value to her any more. Guess, she is hurt in so many places, there is just one way left: the way out. Never mind, that she is solely alone now, all of her friends and most of her family ordered to have no contact with her any more. Dispelled. Her best friend changing the side of the road, when passing on a street. People, she grew up with not answering a greeting any more. On top, her father stripped of all ecclesiastic offices. She had shamed him in public by questioning the church and what he stood for. When word gets round to the boy, that she now lives in the town she works in, he calls on her once again. He had met another girl but if it were at all possible, he wants her back. And if there ever were any repressions against that sect, he would be the first one to raise a stone against her father. This is the sentence that makes her refuse what she really craves for: that boy. Another road not taken. She moves to the county capital shortly after this. Has an affair with a married man. Gets fed up with being no one of importance once again. Pours her energy into her career. To bring the story back to a more personal note, let’s assume she meets a stranger. Completely different from everybody else she had ever met. With humour and a blazing smile. From a far away country. With a profession she has never heard about. A determined sportsperson with a very strong will. Yet helpless, having just arrived in a country he doesn’t know the first thing about, one and two being the only words making sense to him. They fall in love, she gives up her job and moves to where he works. Gets herself a job in his trade. Follows him, whenever he decides to change jobs and move countries. They get married. Try to have kids. After another two or three failed pregnancies, one of which really threatens her life, she gives up hope. But they succeed in building up their own business. Fail at the marriage, though. When the girl turns thirty, she realizes, she has chosen a character for a husband that very much resembles her father. The reason, she never noticed, untill it was too late, was, that this man’s god was called ego, not Jehova. Apart from this minor difference, it was quite the same, patriachic structure. It was either his way or no way. As she had become very good now in his profession, this threatens him into aggression, eventually erupting in plain violence. Let’s just say, this is the end of this marriage. She runs for her life. Knowing that the alternative would be turning into her mother. A depressive wreck, void of a life of her own. Worshipping someone elses gods, rejoicing in pettiness. With the lack of children to see her through at least for a while.
Now back to the other plot line. The boy we briefly met in the beginning marries that other girl. They have two kids, a son and a daughter. He furthers his education, studying while raising his family. He also gets into politcs, running for office. As he is an idealistic person, it would be approbriate to have him run for the alternative movement. So let’s have him make his voice heard for the planet blue and its less fortunate inhabitants.
Thus, decades pass by, each of the two absorbed in their separate lives. Yet, from time to time, for the story’s sake, we’ll have their paths cross. Someone mentioning his name, when she visits home. An article in the newspaper about this or that he did, on same visits. A quick meeting for a coffee, spaced out with years inbetween. Always causing emotional havoc for both. For the girl mostly a feeling of guilt for what she had done to him aeons ago. Listening to his reports about his family and work. Which makes her sad, very sad. He seems to have everything she lacks. Many a time on such occasions she can’t help wanting to turn the clock back. She should have become this man’s wife, she should have had his children. Everything feels so wrong. The only consolation being, that she would not have had such an exciting life. She would never have left her home town. She would not be who she had grown into. Maybe she would have been spared many sorrows. But missed all the riches, too. She probably would be an entirely different person now. And she is not sure, she preferres this notional creature to her actual self. Anyways, as turning the clock back is impossible, she lets it be. Glad to meet him every now and then. Glad, he still always makes time for her and seems to be happy to see her, too. Let’s assume she is quite ok with her own life. She had met a very nice man to be with. He is the kindest person one can imagine, making her a happy woman. Their life together flowing by in a calm manner, each of them appreciating the little pleasures one cares to look at only, if one has had ones ups and downs to the full. She loves the city she lives in and has made a name for herself in her trade, at least locally. With her city being a fairly big place, this is not too shabby, either. The boy, all the while, being not so forthcoming with his internal thoughts and feelings.
To wrap this up, let’s have a change of scenes once more:
The girl, well into her forties now, is on her yearly visit home once again one winter. Her cousin and aunt somehow mention the boy again. Causing her to arrange a meeting on short notice after umpteen years. The boy – if we can call him that any longer – agrees, they spend a nice evening together. Her blog address is mentioned. To have this blog platform take a part in this story, let’s have the boy find out about her imminent visit on the occasion of a wedding she writes about in her blog a couple of months later. He contacts her and arranges to meet again. This time, it is entirely different. He tells her about his marriage having failed, too. The divorce already on its way. About the long years of disdain, wearing him down. The boy looks calm as he relates his story to the girl, yet utterly forlorn. Until she says: Come in, I’ll give you shelter from the storm.
This is as if a dam bursts. For both. As if the last 28 years meant nothing at all. Back at the very beginning. To where they belonged in the first place. As he travels to see her shortly after this revolutionary occasion, they both laugh about the fact, that they held each other in such high regard for almost three decades, yet this was the first time they are able to spend a day together as lovers without fear.
Let’s assume, they are in love as they always used to be. Now we all can have our imagination run freely. But keep in mind: 28 years might dissappear, but kids don’t, partners don’t, living in different countries doesn’t, careers don’t. Maybe we can assume, they sort all of this and live happily ever after. Who knows?