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no gold (things will have to wait)

There is an old Russian expression for the inevitable moment when your neighbors begin renovating. "Searching for gold in the walls." They say, to describe the epic sounds of drills in ancient concrete. You might appreciate this odd humor, this dark joke, this survival tactic. I am not so graceful a man to wrap my thoughts around it. Those drills and grinders, they shake the very walls of our apartment. Early on Sunday mornings and often long into the evenings they go.

This has been going on for the last four months, maybe more. I stopped counting.

I cannot imagine there are any walls left, that there is an entire open floor below us, the wind whipping through the naked beams and nothing else. That is the only explanation. Or that they break down walls, build new ones, find a flaw, some grand mistake and then break all of the walls down again. Not swiftly with sledgehammers, but with one crappy old drill with a dull bit, mashing away, so that children hundreds of miles away…

Mexican blankets and clowns

By my fifth day in New York, the city felt like an old pair of jeans I had misplaced and then found in my luggage. Everything just fit. People smiled at me. Every lunch was a blue plate special. Old friends uncorked bottles and bottles of wine, whipped up late night macchiatos and tucked me into bed under Mexican blankets.

I slept the whole flight back, returning to a rainy Moscow afternoon with a suitcase full of toys. The city was oddly quiet.

Lost in time again, I surrendered to naps in the afternoon and spent my nights trying to fall back asleep. I felt like I had forgotten my travel clock in New York this time around.

On Sunday, I took E on a walk to рынок (the outside market) and recognized a famous clown in the street. Kuklachov, founder of the Moscow Cat Circus nodded kindly to me as I said hello. There is no kinder or gentler clown alive, as far as I am concerned. He finds stray cats, takes them in and teaches them to perform in his imaginative and charming little theater. He lives with something like forty cats in his apartment upstairs. The marquee is covered with portraits of them, with their names spelled in giant yellow letters. He also has a little dog – some kind of white terrier.

We bought triangle shaped pastries filled with lamb and onions. E likes to eat them in street with me, sitting on the curb like we are in some lost Chaplin film.

I really felt like I was in Moscow again.

Comments

The Expatresse said…
I am dying to see the Cat Circus!
brenda said…
why oh why have i never heard of the Cat Circus? and man, do I wish I were E. What a life she leads on these journeys, holding hands with her father.

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