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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…

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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