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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…

the strange violin

E cried the whole night and could not sleep, kicking the covers and punching the air above her. I packed my luggage in the dark, as she clung to me, asking why she could not come with me. Over and over I explained that without her mother's permission, I could not take her. Over and over she asked me "why". Impossible for her to accept that one person was keeping her in Moscow.

I made an egg sandwich, and one for her which she would not eat. I barely got her dressed and out the door. Impossible to say goodbye, but somehow leaving her in a doorway tears hot on her cheeks, fingers turning to fists still, I was in the elevator and outside.

Outside, she waited in her green car. Ah, what to call her - my girl? My someone special? Well, let's call her someone who drove me to the airport which is a significant thing to do. And we are late, stuck in traffic as she changes lanes and I remain calm and then more calm, turning her dark hair in my fingers, resting my hand on her leg. She was the nervous one. I knew we would be on time.

And in truth, the flight was delayed so we spent some minutes in the main hall making silly faces at each other as we had only prepared for a fast goodbye, not a slow one.

Now in New York, I wander and meet and drink and say goodbye and hello and eat pizza, take trains and cars, walk with my jacket open looking up at the bright lights. I hold my sister, my baby niece, my old nanny. I drink honey vodka with old friends. I breathe the warm wet air deep inside me, feeling my chest about to pop the buttons on my shirt then let the air out with with a slow hiss, a sort of private smile. The city feels good under my boots. I run into people I know on the sidewalk, their children playing in the snow.

All the while, my heart is not here. It is back with E and my special girl. I am divided - - stretched across the Atlantic. Catgut strings on a strange violin. I am here but not here.

The next day the sun shines so brightly, and I realize I have been living in darkness for months. I stare at it, eyes wide open, not blinking, tears streaming down my cheeks.

Comments

how lucky to split between two such amazing cities.
sad to be missing two special girlz
Annie said…
There are very few blogs that one can simply sit down and start reading - and get all you need to know. Your posts are - each ones - little jewels that are rich with many facets. I'm so glad I landed here this morning!

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