Sunday, November 8, 2015

I Wonder if Slava is Looking for a Room-mate

Photographer: Evgenia Arbugaeva

Slava Korotki is described as the most cut-off man in the universe. Except for the  problem (for me) of the extreme northern position of his home on the edge of Russia and the Arctic, and those frightfully short winter days, I've a hankering to join him. I thought about it even as I dragged myself to Trader Joe's today and joined the literal throngs of people waiting in line to buy stuff. I imagine I could make a pretty decent matchstick house or two, maybe a castle or one of those lonely wooden towers that Van Morrison crooned of in Purple Heather. You can't go anywhere in Los Angeles, and I mean anywhere, without seeing some of the most destitute people living on the streets, under bridges, in shopping cart villages. The other day, as I pulled out of a gas station and waited at a light, I found myself staring at a man trying to light a match to the contents of a tin can. It was the first chilly morning in forever, my car sat idling. At home, a house rich in the accoutrements of 2015, the buzz of workers creating a drought-tolerant landscape, a saint who helps to tend Sophie yet is desperate for more work.  I closed my eyes and imagined myself stopping the car, stepping out, closing the door behind me and oblivious to the honks and shouts of the others, walking toward him, abiding there. City of Angels. Slava is a weatherman, and according to the woman who wrote the article, he  doesn’t have a sense of self the way most people do. It’s as if he were the wind, or the weather itself.


  1. It's tempting to want to walk away from everything, isn't it? But about ten minutes into that new life we'd all be missing our old ones.

  2. This reminds me of Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler. When my children were all at home and needed so much from me I wanted to run away so badly. I don't want to be alone though I found out. I do like having someone to take care of it seems. But living in LA, I couldn't do that. Edmonton is much bigger than I like but it's where my work is and where Katie is, so here I stay. The big guy wants to move out to Sherwood Park which is on tenth the size and I like that but it's so white out there. That part I don't like.

    Anyway, as always, I digress.

  3. I do think that many of us could benefit from periods of time where we get to just escape to nothing, or very little. Of course, having the choice to do so makes me feel guilty in contrast to the folks who are lighting tin cans with matches because they have no other options. But perhaps if we could work out some rotation whereby we all get to experience solitude and then return to our 'normal' lives, we would live those lives with more clarity and respect. I like to think of your time at Hedgebrook a little like that. Was it?

  4. There is solitude of choice and then there is solitude without. When you look closely at each, there is pain and there is poetry, even if neither puts pen to paper.
    Thanks for turning me on to Slava.



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