Oh to go back and be here.
The main ballroom of Saint Petersburg’s best hotel in the depths of a Russian winter in 1913. . .
Two flights up. A wall of silk and velvet draperies framing snow that blows like a sea bird’s feather with a plush carpet to match but with silken fringe instead of anything cold.
Cousins from everywhere, some not seen for years. From the family merchant houses in those other places. Rome, Paris, Amsterdam. Even a great uncle from the one in Zurich.
Cousin Gertrude and a wedding to dream of. A husband whose entire home is done up in silver gilt and a veritable zoo of Faberge creatures as an engagement gift. Who knows what for a wedding present. Two palaces along the Neva and a yacht perhaps.
Not like that other cousin’s in Venice that time. No. A gondola and what someone had said was a palace. But a leased one in the end.
Someone at the other end where the table begins standing up as the toasting begins and comes around the table like voices echoing around the lake estate in the mountains that Grandmama owned.
A parade of waiters and a sedan chair sort of thing carried by six dogs but with an ice sculpture filled with black caviar slowly melting in like a mound of mashed potatoes after one poured the gravy on.
Champagne and a chat with the lady cousin to the left and then to the right.
Talk of problems between the kaiser and the tsar before the dancing but no. Something that will be surely worked out like all those other times.
Something in the Balkans but then there is always something in the Balkans. Serbia always wanting to be free but no. First the sultan and now Franz Joseph. The little places not ready to be free. Better having fewer border guards and trains that don’t stop when one only wants a holiday to start.