It started with the hands


Sent on September 22th 2011

This was the first turning point, the sight of your hands, despite your ringing finger. After seeing that, it was easy to live.

Then I came to you, twice, and then you came to me, repeatedly, and then you snatched me away. A year ago, today. It went by not just in a flash, but in a week.

If I start to think about what I did more deeply, I might get a little panicky. Everything I’ve known all my life till now is about 777 km away. Alas, so far, so good, said the man falling off the roof, right?

This may sound a little cynical but it’s not. I’m not one to panic, especially if there is no reason. Things have been improving all the time. The IKEA nesting syndrome is concluded, which has resulted in several new acquisitions. You seem to be happiest fixing, or better planning and then fixing.

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Expedit, buy you can call him Shady. Photo: MM14-4-14 030Fabian shelves: we have our books

How you plan to fix me is still a mystery to me, since I see myself unfixable. Or can it be that you really don’t want to? You see, I’m still amazed at the possibility that you really love me as I am. Recently you mentioned a famous Italian singer and said of her that she may be nice, but not beautiful. Not with her nose. As it is, when I was watching her concert on the TV, she seemed spectacularly beautiful to me.

There is the whole world, and then there is me, and you, such a perfectionist, have chosen me?

I can see you get mad a little at this. You will ask me again how come my self-esteem is so low. And my jaw will drop open and I’ll think of all the times I’ve stood for myself in my life, all the times I was rebelling, taking my stand, telling people the truth, learning how to approach people who wanted to belittle me or make me feel unworthy and shut them the fuck up. And now you feel this from me, lack of self-esteem.

This must be a cultural thing, too. It seems that I hail from a nation of nagging closet passive aggressive sado-masochists, ridden by the inferiority complex and with the history of succumbing (waves, love you anyway). My mom’s first thought after having me was something like: “Mmmm how I love strawberries. But now I’m not allowed to any more, now I must stop loving them so much!”

And you? You’re Italian. You built Broccolino (=Brooklyn) with your own hands. Your team looks good in their Armani jerseys even when losing. Your policemen strut around like models (that line on the pants… telling ya…). Possibly it’s your assuredness that I love so much, apart from all the other constituent parts that make you you. (Tina Maze and her Italian, anyone?)

When you get to know someone online, you will, naturally, only know them at the moments when they wish to deal with you. When they don’t, they will be offline, for example. And now there is no offline. I’m learning about how much cave time you need, what to do when you’re fuming, how to snatch the dog from under your feet just in time.

And you are learning too, oh, I bet you are, it’s just that I can’t see it as clearly. I often feel needy, or better I feel, and fear, that you see me as such. I watch your mood swings closely, trying to figure out how to make you feel better all the time, never worse. But the worst feeling in the world is when I’m not reaching you, no matter what I do. Yet this is happening less and less frequently.

We have been living together for exactly a year now. Have been: living, loving, getting good, getting better. There is a reason why this tense is called Present Perfect Continuous. It’s now, it’s constantly nearing perfection (or at least improving, since perfection has such an ultimately unreachable ring to it), and hell yeah, it continues.

≈ Manja Maksimovič ≈

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A black and white selfie since it was taken on Slovenian Culture Day

Grazie for changing my story

An open letter to Jeanette Winterson


Taken in London 2010 and missed by a few days. Photo: MM


The only selfish life is a timid one. To hold back, to withdraw, to keep the best in reserve, both overvalues the self, and undervalues what the self is.

(This and all further quotes in italics on this page are from Jeanette Winterson: The PowerBook.)


It was less than two years ago. I was in Piran, Slovenia, perched on a rock above the licking waves, afternoon sun still scorching, and I was reading. As it sometimes happens, I was reading a book which proved too good to finish. I had started it once before but let it simmer on the shelf.

Chapters with titles such as


meant intent and screamed to me Take your time! The inside front cover displayed a computer screen saying Freedom for just one night, and the inside back cover invited You can change the story. You are the story.

I mean, who wouldn’t.


As I was on the train travelling 777 km to meet him about a month later, I was reading the same book again. Underlying and marking passages that made me do it. Move. Act. Change it. And he was waiting for me with his copies (one in English and another in Italian, so that I’ll learn his language from you). And then we made the exchange. My copy for him carried a light lipstick kiss with two inscriptions. The first was something he had written to me during our three years of chats and I saved it for just this occasion:

“A wish is a dream we can make true.”

Stuck in a relationship with too many clocks and not enough time, I’d been doing what I felt was necessary to turn your Nowhere into Somewhere. This included going online to see what I’d been missing. (The body can endure compromise and the mind can be seduced by it. Only the heart protests.)

If one is open and honest, correct things happen. Just like that time all those years ago when something put Sexing the Cherry into my hands in the university library. I mean, WHO WOULDN’T?

(Seductive as it is, I still haven’t figured out what to make of this title. If I knew how to translate it, I might have translated the rest of the book as well by now. Seeing that it is my favourite book, not by you but by anybody.)

And over time, words and trust and passion have brought me to the rock with the book.

Love is worth death. Love is worth life. My search for you, your search for me, goes beyond life and death into one long call in the wilderness. I do not know if what I hear is an answer or an echo. Perhaps I will hear nothing. It doesn’t matter. The journey must be made.

I could feel little tingles on the inside. It was as if you’d just bought me a ticket.

I can’t take my body through space and time, but I can send my mind, and use the stories, written and unwritten, to tumble me out in a place not yet existing – my future.

You make future sound like a place to be. And you make it sound urgent.

If I could follow the map further and if I could refuse the false endings (the false starts don’t matter), I could find the place where time stops. Where death stops. Where love is.

Beyond time, beyond death, love is. Time and death cannot wear it away.

False starts don’t matter! Love is! It almost propelled me off my rock. As I ran into the sea and submerged to swim underwater, I felt I was ready.

We were universes dripping with worlds. All we had to do was choose.

Something was about to begin. I have chosen.


There are no guarantees. I just have to risk it. This was going through my mind on that train, even before reading you say it.

I’m looking for something, it’s true. Looking for you, looking for me, believing that the treasure is really there. I knew from the moment I saw you (as the saying goes) how it was going to begin.

I don’t know how this will end.

One of the first things I saw in Roma was a poster saying “Io non ho paura”. I didn’t know, yet I was not afraid. And after a successful download (The trouble is that in imagination anything can be perfect. Downloaded into real life, it was messy.), plenty of arguing in English and making love in French as well as cooking in Italian:

Anyway, life is not a formula and love is not a recipe. The same ingredients cook up differently every time.

Take two people. Slice lengthways. Boil with the lid on. Add a marriage, a past, another woman. Sugar to taste. Pass through a chance meeting. Lubricate sparingly. Serve on a bed of – or is it in a bed of – ? Use fresh and top with raw emotions.

this has crystallized:

I want to be able to call you. I want to be able to knock on your door. I want to be able to keep your key and to give you mine. I want to be seen with you in public. I want there to be no gossip. I want to make supper with you. I want to go shopping with you. I want to know that nothing can come between us except each other.


This is the other inscription your PowerBook was carrying to Roma:

“Grazie for changing my story.”

I know I should thank myself. But still I couldn’t do it without him, and, quite possibly, without you either.

And we’re making you proud. The third time I travelled there was for good. Our pack includes a little “bestia” now (and a dear friend gave me your 24 Hour Dog to read upon welcoming him – it’s frightening me too but I’m keeping him – so you see… you continue).

As does this:

I am a message. You change the meaning.
I am a map that you redraw.

Grazie, for writing important books.

≈ Manja Maksimovič ≈