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Breathing the right air

Nothing brings more comfort than a bag of good things to cook, swinging under your arm as you make your way home. Somehow it blots out the rest of the world. In these moments, the entire universe consists of a late afternoon sun, a stray dog and a clump of flowers growing strange and wild in a yard. A hit of basil jumps from my elbows with each swing of the bag, a gift from one of the ladies I buy from the most. I visit markets without intention, just eyes open ready to discover fresh peas, or the first corn. Knowing that these products will disappear as quickly as they present themselves creates a certain form of excitement. Each season offers up this rhythm and without it I might become completely lost.

I think of when we were in Tuscany a month ago, feeling like such a tourist until I wandered out along the highway and found the local vegetable stand. I shoved squash blossoms and tiny tomatoes into a bag, rushing back to our room like I had robbed a bank. I made pasta with them th…

the notary and the pale blue sky

The wednesday morning passed quickly, as I worked in silence waiting for the call from Sergey. For months, we had prepared documents that expired, again and again. Waiting for these two women to meet us at a notary office and sign the company over to us had become a daily conversation since October. One of them D, my soon to-be-ex-wife, the other, Katya - an innocent yet difficult woman to say the least. But the call did come, and I went to Autozavodskaya, sitting in the hallway on a crooked chair, the green fluorescents sputtering, the warped white panelling a familiar detail.

Katya was there first, mostly to have other papers created. Her eyes always looked like giant eggs to me. Next, D who poked her head in once and then went back outside to chainsmoke and talk to some foreign boyfriend. Sergey arrived with his wife Jhanna who also had to witness the signing. He stood over me, tall and thin as ever. Always in black, with a knife hanging from his belt, never a hat. He is my first kreisha, my roof, my protection. He smiled a giant smile, his nicotine-stained teeth shining.

The notary was a plump woman who read us all the agreement, stopping and making a face to herself, marking some correction and having an assistant print another copy. She would rip the old version apart with a methodical flourish six or seven times before she was satisfied. A courier for our lawyer sat quietly in the corner, her lips parted. She kept her coat on.

And just as easily as I had worked for three years without pay, as easily as the bank accounts were emptied at a bat of an eye by D, just as I had been three days from deportation last summer, as easily as sitting in this tiny room for 45 minutes, we were done. I laughed at Sergey who had forgotten his glasses and used Jhanna's purple ones instead, resting them on his forehead and forgetting they were there.

Sheer force of will had brought us here, nothing else. Not luck, not persistence, not logic or any sense of morality. We left all that behind some months ago.

Later, in the street I felt an incredible sense of calm. I called N, padrushka maya, my sweetheart. She shouted at the news, and made me promise to celebrate the next night.

And we did, with friends, and E running around the kitchen. I rolled out fresh pasta, covering myself with flour, taking great gulps of red wine. The room was filled with the smell of arugula pesto, and some vanilla flan that I almost forgot in the oven. My friends grew drunk and sleepy, sharing the chairs. N sat on the windowsill, so quiet but winking at me flashing her secret smile, playing with E as they drew pictures of girls and flowers and tiny cars.

The week had much more in store, too much to explain simply. Maybe someday. Chapters of my life were coming to a close. Spring was coming. Birds were returning, drowning out the crows that never leave this city. The filthy snow was melting, revealing millions of petrified dog shits.

On Sunday morning, I took E from her mother's and as we made our way down Kutuzovsky I saw a tiny butterfly fall to the sidewalk. E and I stood over the little orange creature, convinced it was made of paper and had just fallen from a window. A butterfly in March? I rested my hand next to it. The butterfly crawled across the lines of my palm and rested there. I lifted it carefully for E to see.

"Pop, it's dead." She said. "It's really, really dead."

I carried it for a few hundred meters, studying the furry little body, looking for any movement.

And then it flew back into the pale blue sky.

Comments

Annie said…
You absolutely leave me breathless.
Karin said…
I am so grateful that you have flown back across my radar after all these years. I am so honored that you share your life and all it's beautiful colors with me.
Thank you Marco.
Rabbit blogger said…
karin - which karin? hmmmmmm.......
Karin said…
......Karin who worked with you 23 years ago at Glimmerglass Opera. You painted a giant "caution orange" x on the top of my boyfriend's car & you both wore skirts to run follow spot because it WAS THAT HOT up on the catwalk....Last time we saw each other was in 1994 when he and I moved to the East Village and we would meet you for brunch at Baby Jake's on Avenue A...that was when we introduced you to David & Scarlett.
Rabbit blogger said…
oh, karin - now everyone knows about the orange X. but that was Todd, not me. and yikes, 23 years! i ha d hair then. a lot of hair.

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