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you are not there

We are taking the little one for a ride on her new sled. It is bright orange, with a fuzzy black and white seat cover to keep her extra warm. Her tiny hands in tiny gloves hold the sides as tight as she can. I pull her down a path, shouting "woohooo" and then she replies "woohoo". N's turn is next, pulling her more schoolgirl than mother for a few minutes. There are other parents with children on sleds passing us. Their eyes straight forward, faces completely blank they slip by in silence. I flash a smile to them, and they do not even look at me. I am not there, just another tree leaning towards the stream that runs below.

There are ducks still, flapping around the brackish water and we throw pieces of stale bread to them. I start to think, not about the complete absence of smiles in this culture. I stopped asking about that long ago, told over and again that smiles are reserved for home, behind closed doors. But I wonder, for the children -  these wiggling bu…

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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