Sunset is the time I usually arrive back home to V-town, I can see it riding up beyond the horizon as I come up past Vana-Võidu, Jaan Tõnisson’s birthplace, etc., those shadowy pillars in the smoky dusk, the outline of an ancient city. I am so eternally grateful for the stars in the deep Atlantic blue sky, that come out just beyond dusk, which lingers so deliciously, those gold paint splashes of sun, the white gold light all over the facades of Old Town, the hills that roll down and away, then curl up on the horizon, with blue-green evergreens patterned up upon. Where better to be than here among the verandas and wood barns and moss? I’ll take the silence, the quiet traffic hum, the too familiar faces and maddening conversations … I feel somehow beyond the kaubanduskeskuse maailm of Tartu and Tallinn and anywhere else here, safe from that department store world of discount sausages and organic soaps, where most of the remaining good of the cities has been encased and surrounded and jailed in plastic and metal and escalators. There’s more. When you get lost in life, as I have, you must live on not by your wits, but your “heart.” If you don’t, you betray yourself and get ever deeper into this labyrinth of life illusions. High rows of green hedges rise spreading to gray horizons. Somewhere a bird sadly singing. Sometimes I wonder how many other people are lost and if they even know it.
You used to all come here for the geopolitical analyses, okay. People are worried, the media shows British troops amassing in the Estonian hinterlands, the American tanks in Narva, specter of Russian aggression, the pro-Kremlin zombie stooges amok on the commenting boards, like the worst case of Montezuma’s Revenge. Shit. I just don’t feel it though. Maybe I am just too blissed out by the advent of spring, those lovely little birds chirping (and yes, spring did come to Europe, even in 1939) but I just don’t sense the danger and here’s why: because short of invading Estonia, losing a lot of little green men, getting into a nuclear eye-for-an-eye, city-for-a-city, and imposing Yana Toom on the throne as a yes woman (who will be perpetually pelted with rotten potatoes and turnips until driven into exile in Damascus where she can behold and becoddle her boyfriend Assad’s hand lovingly), the Estonian leadership now is, quite honestly, the best the Kremlin could hope for. The President, Kaljulaid, is a born and raised Estonian woman whose outlook east is not the outraged Atlanticism of her predecessor, but the rather common moral superiority of the nordics (“the situation is not ideal, but the ethical state must make do, etc.”) making her sound, in a roundabout, removed, unfinlandized yet way, like Tarja Halonen. The prime minister’s party had that deal with United Russia in the ’00s, which probably doesn’t mean much, but it does mean so very much to the Kremlin (“our guys are in power there”), the same way that Lavrov still talks about Swedish “neutrality” as if it really meant something, or that they’re flustered about being “engulfed by NATO,” when it’s obvious the West is in shit shape. That doesn’t mean that the gasket protecting us from global meltdown isn’t going to blow soon, but if it does, it’s probably going to steam in Korea or some such place, where heavy missiles land in the seas. In which case, we all should feel alert and alarmed, no matter where we are.
Back here, contemplating the human condition. Some days are wondrous, bright, sun-backed, a white light on the castle ruins, other days a bit more blue and gray. Ain’t so easy to walk into a cafe and spit out a mouthful of Estonian after a few weeks back in the US. All of those vowels. Sometimes I think people only pretend to understand me. (“What is he saying? Something weird again. Who knows!) I think about the male-female back and forth, about things that are inferred, things that are never said, things that are said but that mean something else. The iceberg theory! Above water, only the tip, but below, whoa, down and down it goes. I remember how once in the New York Aquarium in Brooklyn ages and ages ago, I stood watching the walruses dip and twirl in the waters, then was astonished when one pushed its nether regions up against the glass and realized that I was looking at the largest vagina I had ever seen in my life. “Maybe she likes you,” someone said to me at the sight of that massive morsa tussu. Maybe so. I appreciate it now, how direct nature can be. What was there to misinterpret? It was just there.