24 January 2010
18 January 2010
Today carries a certain perfection in the Russian calendar. In truth, all water is considered holy on this day. People make their way to churches, empty bottles tucked under their arms, or knocking against each other in strong bags from Ikea. I am one of them.
I enter the monastery that blooms so random and wild in the summer. Now, an ice sculpture stands in front of the church - a crudely carved angel, her head bowed in grace. Inside, the rooms are lit only by candles and the patches of sunlight that make their way to the icons that cover the walls. Incense remains heavy in the air, familiar and comforting. I buy two candles and light them in front of my favorite one. I do not need to pay anything for them, but do all the same. One for E and one for me.
We came here yesterday as I had mistaken the day of perfect water. It was during a service. Her eyes wide, she stood completely silent and still for some time. People stood (as there are no pews in Russian Orthodox churches). They stood in their winter coats with warm hats shoved in their pockets. They stood in awkward poses as this is what you do when you stand for a long time.
Now, I am in line and see giant silver vats full of sacred water. Old women dispense them, carefully placing funnels and little white pans on the floor so not a drop is wasted. They say the water is chemically perfect on this day, and that you may drink from this bottle during the year when you are sick. They say you may put a bit of this water on the walls and floor of your apartment to make it a good home.
Sometimes I drink it in the morning - -just a splash at the bottom of a little cup. I drink it at truly difficult moments, after I look at the sky or my hands through it. It tastes wonderful, like the well water I drank as a boy on the farm.
10 January 2010
I really hurt myself a week ago, falling on some ice. During the January holidays, none of the doctors are working so unless you've got a gunshot wound you go to the pharmacy and hope someone there can give you something to tide you over. I ended up breaking glass ampules open, my fingertips bleeding, somehow filling needles and injecting myself in the ass as I tried to see what the hell I was doing in the bathroom mirror. It was a strange number of days, playing with E and laying on my stomach as we played go fish, dominoes, checkers and drew countless pictures of fairies and girls in pretty dresses.
What I learned is this - by walking between two and four miles a day I have overdeveloped muscles in my legs, leaving others weak. I lean forward when I walk - pushing towards the future. When I was five and we left Brooklyn to raise pigs in a little town with one traffic light, I walked the halls of that elementary school like my pants were on fire. I was a New Yorker, through and through - rushing towards the lunch line, the school bus, the bathroom.
So now, the New Year has already forced me to walk differently - straight up, as if I'm trying to push the sky a little higher.
It feels good.