Part 2: A Dostoevskian Love Story

stories

Andrea is a woman whose life story sounds exactly like it could be swapped into any of Dostoevsky's tragic female character's without much of an impact on the plot, She is small and gaunt and exceptionally beautiful, with dark, long flowing hair, and eyes that hint of both jaundice and unimaginable sorrow. She lives her life enslaved -- perhaps not exactly how you might think a young woman of 24 might be, though probably not too far from. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

My sexual escapades in Europe have not been going swimmingly thus far. Almost without fail, every attractive woman I've met has had a boyfriend, even those I meet in traditionally singles' hangouts. Especially the women I meet in traditionally singles' hangouts.

I went on a date last week. It spanned almost the entire spectrum of human emotion, from lust to existential angst to inspiration. At first glance, this is the story of that date, but there is a deeper moral here. I haven't found it yet, but I'm sure it's there, somewhere.

Tinder and I have been pretty good friends as of late. Ostensibly, it's how I've been meeting locals -- essentially the strategy being to cast my net wide and deep and see what is dredged up. Perhaps more honestly it's a bit of an ego trip to see how many European girls think I'm "hott stuff". It's worked quite well on both accounts so far (especially the latter: I've still got it, baby), but this was different. I got matched with a beautiful Estonian woman named Andrea, and she messaged me immediately. I pretended to speak Estonian because I heard that would impress the women. I was found out instantly, but I think it impressed her anyway.

We set up a date for the next day: it was night time and I was trying to power through a cold I had gotten a few days previously by spending a drunken night outside in the rain wearing shorts and a tee. Andrea seemed pretty keen to meet that evening, but I don't easily kowtow to the womanly wiles. In retrospect she actually seemed a little too keen to meet that night -- I'm a little concerned I didn't notice it at the time. At the time I was excited. I was hott stuff; evidently the European girls couldn't get enough of me.

We met the next day outside of the kaubamaja [ee: mall]. I was wearing my straw hat out of some ill-conceived combination of trying to be stylish and being easy to find. At least I was easy to find; I was approached by a tiny brunette woman. We introduced ourselves and hugged. The plan was to catch a film, but we had some time to blow beforehand. I suggested she take me around town and show me what she loved about Tartu.

The two of us walked around Tartu, seeing some of the sights, but mostly just getting to know one another. Andrea asked what Tinder was used for in Canada. "Casual sex, mostly," I winked. She didn't look amused. Then again, Andrea never looked amused. As a general rule, Estonians don't smile.

Andrea told me she first messaged me because she has a thing for Canadians. She said she was currently in a "complicated" thing with another Canuck. Oh. This piece of information had not been advertised in the brochure. A smarter man might have done the math and noticed that things didn't quite add up. A wiser man might have gone home right then and there. Me, I stayed. I was on my first date with a beautiful Estonian woman. That was good enough for me. For added measure, I put my arm around her.

She snuggled in. Success. Misguided, but success.

We went to the cinema, watching some movie about cops. It was in English, with Estonian subtitles. I joked that I wasn't going to have enough attention to try to learn Estonian and play footsies at the same time, and that Estonian was more important. She shrugged, coquettishly.

Despite my pretensions to be learning Estonian, I actually put more of my concentration into the snuggling. Contrary to her earlier affection, Andrea seemed completely disinterested in my advances -- I put this down to an deep concentration in the movie about cops, and didn't push the issue.

She was pretty cool after the movie as well; she stopped making eye contact, and I could tell things weren't going well. Our earlier vibes were gone for some reason, and so I created an out: something about feeling a little sick and maybe going home if she didn't have any plans for what to do. I figured if she weren't interested, she'd bite and we could both go our separate ways. No harm, no foul.

She didn't bite. She seemed genuinely sad that I would even suggest such a thing, and so we decided to go out for drinks. I put her earlier lack-of-eye-contact down to her being Estonian, with the still dominant cultural Soviet oppression. We went out for drinks, and, for the first time in a while she made eye contact and asked: "do you know Eric?"

Eric, as it turns out, was Andrea's "complicated" thing. Apparently it was a little more than "complicated": Eric is a married man with a wife and child in another city; Andrea lives at his house when he doesn't have other women over; when he does, she lives at her abusive mother's place. She depended on Eric for survival, and was afraid to do anything (read: me) to piss him off enough to break up with her. Maybe I was a friend of his sent to test her fidelity.

Suddenly it all made sense: the excitement to meet, the initial flirtatiousness, pulling away when she was given time to think. Everything. The last few hours snapped into place. What was previously a date became the most facinating character study, and I asked her more about herself.

Though, that didn't stop me from trying to kiss her (to no avail). I have a proper blog post to write about this lesson I learned from this, though likely not for a while.

Andrea thinks of herself as terribly stupid, but she's wrong. She's poorly educated (having had her mother pull her from highschool to become a professional ballet dancer, against her will), but she is a survivor. You don't survive by being stupid. I think Andrea downplays her intelligence in an attempt to be underestimated -- certainly a strong defense mechanism, though not necessarily a good way to pull oneself out of a rut. Given the choice, I would trade any of my highly-educated peers for someone in my life with Andrea's survival instinct.

That being said, there is a danger inherent in associating with ruthlessly smart people -- you can never be sure if they'll throw you under the bus. Andrea strikes me as a latent Voldemort, a woman who wants revenge and is smart enough to get it. I can't blame her for this, the stories she told should not need have been suffered by anyone, let alone a teenage girl. The world has -- and continues to -- shit on her, but somehow she's still going. It's inspiring in a sad kind of way,

Andrea and I still keep in touch. I think we might for a long time. I think we both needed a friend more than we knew. I told her I'd write her a story. It's strangely Dostoevskian. I hope she likes it.