02 Feb A Great Big Bag of Love
First published in the NZ Woman’s Weekly 1.2.21
I don’t know what your idea of the perfect partner is, but there is a woman in Russia who has married a briefcase and I can kind of see her point.
The story, reported in recent weeks by several reputable sources, tells of Rain Gordon, a 24-year-old nursery school teacher in Moscow who has taken as her husband a shiny, silver metallic case who she calls Gideon.
It is one of those stories that pops up in the lighter corners of the internet. I like to fossick about in these places as a diversion from front page headlines about the plague and government insurrection. It is tremendously cheering.
According to the reports, there was a wedding and everything, attended by Rain’s family and presided over by a friend. (I am valiantly resisting the urge to imagine the groom’s wedding party included a pair of elderly suitcases and a young wallet or two.) Rain says that when she first saw Gideon in a hardware store five years ago she found him irresistible and took him home. They have, she says, long philosophical discussions (I’m guessing he really opens up to her) and love spending their evenings together.
Okay, so there is a bit to unpack here. (Sorry, not sorry.) Rain is an animist – one of those people who believe even inanimate objects have a soul. And to be fair, we all do a bit of that. When we are kids, our toys have names and we often assign them personalities and voices, and imagine them – as in “gift” them – emotions and thoughts. We might even do that into adulthood – hands up if there’s a favourite teddy at your place that you still like to keep safe and warm.
So you can see where this might start, right? And then as a teenager, Rain says her first love – the thing that filled her with those burgeoning adolescent feelings of passion – was a shopping mall. (I hear you, Rain. I’ve felt hot and bothered at the odd retail outlet more than once.) Initially, she kept this to herself because she knew it would make her sound weird, and people would disapprove.
But if you’re a nursery school teacher and your day is filled with Thomas the Tank Engine or talking dinosaurs or bananas who wear pyjamas, perhaps it’s not a massive leap to think a sparkling briefcase might be called Gideon, and be handy to have around, and the sight of him might truly make your heart skip a beat. Honestly, I get it. I’ve bought shoes that I’ve taken home, unboxed and literally hugged with something that feels a lot like passion, if not love.
Also in Rain’s defence, they were together for five years before they got hitched (Latched? Clasped to each other?) so no-one was rushing into anything, plus Gideon is not a worn leather satchel so it is an age-appropriate relationship. She knows how to get him to open up (how many of us can say that about our life partner?) and he has space to hold her hopes and dreams, and keep them secure, and generally has a handle on things. Plus they’d travel well together.
We shouldn’t be too quick to judge other people’s relationship choices, especially since our own idea of the ideal partner changes over the years. Heck, it even changes throughout the day. I’m willing to bet that even Mrs Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson occasionally looks at her husband and thinks, I wish I’d married a suitcase… A suitcase would close its lid when it chews. (Note: I have no actual idea if The Rock chews with his mouth open, nor am I sure how long it would take for that to become irritating, if ever.)
We can all catch ourselves fantasising about the life we don’t live. There are moments when I’m watching some kind of police procedural on TV, and a suspect is asked where they were last night, (I was at home all evening, Detective), and can anyone verify that, (No, I live alone with cats), and I think, ooh, that sounds peaceful, I bet she gets a lot of reading done and her ironing is up to date.
But then we remember all the reasons we adore living with our partners, including (though not limited to) having someone to scratch the unreachable part of our back, dealing with remnants of the rat the cat brought in just before dawn, and providing an alibi if there did in fact happen to be a murder in the village.
So I’m not saying you’d be wrong to choose luggage over an actual person, or that your choices should be based on the off-chance you will ever need a corroborating witness. I’m just saying we should remain open to all options because the business of choosing who someone wants to spend their life with is not an open and shut case.