sonya padden

A Practiced Disrespect

A Practiced Disrespect

Article by Sonya Padden; art by Isabel Aurichio

"I can't kiss you now," he said after coming in my mouth. “I think I’m going to go smoke… what are you going to do now?” As if it should have been obvious that nothing else was going to happen in that bedroom. I put on my clothes and left. 

That night I felt a complicated type of pain. It hurt not just because I felt disrespected (that wasn’t the first or last time), but because I’d blatantly disrespected myself.

Two Minutes to Midnight

In August 1988, the first group of commercial rafters to enter Russia since the Iron Curtain dropped in the 1940s, made their way to the Katun River. Nestled in the dense forests carpeting the Altai Mountains in southern Siberia, the river was then accessible only by helicopter. The group of 10 Americans met with a group of Russians thanks to project RAFT (Russians and Americans For Teamwork). During a night at camp, after multiple days on the river, one of the Americans asked, “How is it that we have lived under stereotypes and fear for so long?” The light crackle of the fire grew louder as the silence settled. The same skies that 30 years earlier held the threat of falling nuclear weapons were now clear, dark and speckled with stars. Everyone around the fire looked at each other and started crying. The Cold War was over.