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every other man

The light outside the main entrance to our building has gone out again. The heavy metal door swings wide as I pull a hat down over my ears. In the darkness there are maybe twenty teenagers standing still. My boot scrapes across the ground, slowing down. Their hands in pockets, shoulders hunched, I look for a space to pass between them. A voice appears, saying hello in English, with an obvious accent. I am all instinct, sayingpivyet as I pass, not looking back, wondering who said this. There was a boy that was an extra in Blackbetty that lives in our building, but he is too young, too short for it to have been him.

I look back, navigating the puddles in the street. It does not make any sense.

N is with V, making their way home. I meet them, pulling V into my arms as she chatters about her day, about dry leaves and princesses, about her grandmother's apartment and what she ate there. We are going back home, and I try to explain the odd collection that stands outside. As we pass th…

drawers and windows

When I travel, I don't really concern myself with the drawers in the bathroom, or what closet has hangers. Everything stays in a piece of soft luggage, dirty clothes systematically on the bottom. When I sleep on a friend's couch, and offer to cook dinner - -I forget what drawers have the spatulas, or a corkscrew, no matter how many times I stay there.

In this new place, I still feel temporary. I've tried to put shaving things where they should be, toilet paper where it can be found. But it doesn't feel real yet, even though I know it is home. It smells like my chili, and the coffee grounds and the eggshells I should throw. The closets are getting full of jeans and cameras and guitar tuners.

Maybe it's because I had to get rid of most of my books when I had to leave the US. Books on a shelf are significant in a house. It's the first place I look when I visit one - -not judging...more wondering what we have in common.

I have to cart things from the old place in a giant rolling piece of orange luggage, sliding over humps in the snow. I brought a pile of E's books before mine. I did bring one - - a 1st English edition of Rilke's The Roses and The Windows. I can still remember finding it in my college library, reading the whole thing standing there in the stacks.

I keep it on the windowsill for now. It feels cold when I touch it in the morning, having coffee.

Comments

The Expatresse said…
I gave away 17 boxes of books when we moved to Moscow from Bratislava. We still have tons, though. We both live in fear of having nothing to read.

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