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a peaceful protest

I was 16, and the thought of being forced to mention God as part of the pledge of allegiance was too hypocritical an act for me to play along with. Each day of high school began with this mundane recitation, as most people just stood with their hand jutting from a hip, the other dangling across their chest as they counted out the seconds until they could sit back down. They leaned against desks, and talked through it about what party and where it would be, if there would be a keg or a bonfire in the woods. I recited the words, omitting the "under God" part as a sort of half-baked protest. I was raised to flaunt my family's ramshackle atheism, as a choice of smug pride. We knew better, was the prevailing logic.

But one day, I could not stand and say any of it. It felt so rote, so hollow, so devoid of choice. There was no law that said I was required to say it. I knew this was my right, a form of free speech. My homeroom teacher was a legendary drinker, a trash-talking re…

Christmas card from Kurskaya

Christmas brought spinning tops and Yorkshire pudding at an expat party on Kurskaya. A teenage boy messed with a gameboy on the couch with the same expression boys make all over the world. We splashed whiskey into plastic cups as our children sat on our laps. We poured gravy, asked for seconds, and shared stories about old girlfriends. In the company of expats, all men, I felt like I was back in the East Village for a little while.

We traded obscure music references, and then more obscure literary ones. There were knowing smiles, cigarettes smoked in the kitchen, one bottle gone now. Koko cuts her own hair into severe bangs and beats the hell out of her older brother, but plays like an angel with little E. They spin a top and think if they blow on it very hard, it will keep going.

Ah, the joy of speaking English for a few hours after the impossible backwards guessing game of Russian. By the end of the day, my tongue thick in my mouth I tend to understand and remember nothing of this dumbfounding language.

And all at once, E is asleep on my shoulder and we take a taxi home. The splashy lights and blinking trees swing past us, as there is no traffic at this hour. And here, our castle lit from below - casting a great shadow into the clouds.


Comments

Anonymous said…
You're writing continues mezmerize. What along strange trip it is. Keep on keeping on.

R

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