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no invitation

We are at a 3 year old's birthday party in the back room of a cafe. Music is pumping from a tiny speaker. Balloon animals are popping, and waving in the air. A man in a yellow dinosaur costume dances wildly. Parents snap pictures with satisfied smiles on their faces.

A little girl approaches gingerly and stands in the doorway, straying from her parents somewhere inside the restaurant. She cannot be more than three. It must be hard to ignore all of the noise coming from this room packed with celebration. There is a perfect little pony tail at the back of her head. She hesitates, as one foot poises in the air and then rests back down. How to understand that she was not invited. How to understand the laughter, the loose jumping bodies, the presents piled high on the window. None of this connects to her. There is a little plate of food waiting for her back there, in the quiet restaurant. Maybe a warm bowl of soup, thick with noodles. I watch her for some time.

That night, her empty e…

the life of pigeons

She cries. I hold her, ask her questions. She clings to my neck, tears hot against my neck. Twisting her fingers in my shirt, she does not stop. It goes on for some time. It is always for the same reason. I know why. I want to be ignorant. For just once, I wish it was because of something that happened on the playground. Just once because something broke, or spilled, or was lost.

Well, she did lose something. Something she never had.

Leaving the kindergarden I look out the window. There, spraypainted on an aluminum covered passageway is the word "CTAPT" (start). It has been there for as long as I have been bringing E here. A message in a bottle. A nudge. A suggestion. An order. 

Like most graffiti, I suspect it is read and misunderstood, or read and ignored. It has an exclamation mark, like those signs that say DISCOUNT! or SALE! All caps, in letters almost three feet tall. The children can see it every day from the playground. Maybe it was meant for them, not me or any adults.

People here do not smile very much. Every day in the street I see the same expressions. I find myself acting the same sometimes, then catch myself. There should be a snap in my stride, especially now that the streets are dry from snow and ice. I strut, walk fast, weave in and out of the shufflers. I have been walking this way since I was a boy. Sometimes the other kids asked me where I was going, and why so fast. I would stop, spin towards them with a flourish, raise my eyebrows and say, "I don't know, but I'm gonna get there before YOU do."

The day to day comings and goings are a constant struggle. We have been here more than four years now. Sometimes it feels like all we experience is some version of pigeons fighting over a scrap of bread. And the crows are just waiting to swoop in and steal it from the winner.

There is light. There is laughter. There are moments of romance and joy. There are mornings when I wake up next to the kindest, sweetest, funniest woman I have ever known. The sight of her naked back while she sleeps makes me feel peaceful like nothing else in the world. There is love here, amidst the grit and the danger, between the cracks in the sidewalk, in the tight grip of my daughter's hand, in a bowl of pasta in our tiny kitchen, in the middle of the night when the moon looks pregnant.


F'ing brilliant! PERIOD.
"I don't know, but I'm gonna get there before YOU do." - there's so much hope in that

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