This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident. The amount of radiation has been reduced to somewhat manageable levels at the site—allowing intrepid visitors to make a strictly timed visit to the 30-km radiation zone that had been abandoned after the nuclear reactor’s explosion. From all reports I’ve read, visiting Chernobyl is a fascinating journey into an area that has been frozen in time. Visitors carry personal radiation monitors which are read after the tour to ensure they have not been exposed to dangerous levels of gamma rays. It all seems pretty well thought out to me.
Realizing that our 25th anniversary is also taking place this year, it occurred to me that this would make a most excellent anniversary trip. I pointed this out to my long-suffering spouse, Larissa, who shockingly disagrees. Sadly, any points that I scored by remembering the anniversary were not enough to overcome the deficit I created by my choice of destination.
We have faced this situation before. To celebrate my 50th birthday last year I rented a Prius and took off on a four-week cross-country jaunt. Among the sites I visited along the way were the world’s tallest TV antenna in North Dakota (it used to be the second tallest until the record setter in Poland fell down—I kid you not), the Berkeley Pit—which is North America’s deepest toxic waste site, along with the world’s largest abandoned copper smelter. For some reason those weren’t enough of an incentive for Larissa to come along.
Apparently Mrs. Fancy Pants would rather visit someplace “romantic” like Paris or Rome to celebrate our big day. Now mind you, I have been pretty flexible all along in this whole process. I suffered silently when my original idea for the trip—Pyongyang—was shot down. Some nonsense about it potentially being a war zone caused it to be blackballed. (Although to be fair she was willing to visit it on a non-anniversary date and later did so.)
I pointed out, fruitlessly I must say, that a visit to Ukraine would allow Larissa to visit a new country while celebrating one-quarter of her heritage at the same time. It seemed like a slam-dunk. However, her father used to visit Kiev on business trips and glumly referred to it as the “asshole of Europe.” What a buzz kill. My generous offer to make up for Kiev’s shortfalls by adding Chernobyl to the trip apparently wasn’t enough to sweeten the pot.
I’m trying to be open-minded about all this but it’s not like I haven’t already made sacrifices for the sake of the marriage. For crying out loud, we even have matching sheets and pillowcases. Where does it end?
So I ask you dear readers for suggestions on where to celebrate our 25th anniversary, when one person wants to go someplace with indoor plumbing and non-measurable levels of airborne radiation while the other partner is somewhat less discerning.