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there is always something (why I shoot film)

There are maybe ten shots left on the roll. Outside the metro, a collection of pigeons sit on minuscule ledges above two old men. They talk as all old men do, with operatic waves of their hands, sour expressions, belly laughs, eventually scratching their chins as they stare off at nothing in particular. I am pretending to take pictures of something near them, then swing across when they are not looking to shoot a few frames. At one point I surrender to the afternoon and move on.

And now, the courtyard that leads to the film lab. A great old building rests here, a school of architecture where students mill around dressed in black sucking on cigarettes with giant portfolios tucked under their arms. A young man approaches me. I am ready to tell him I have no idea what he is saying, but he wants to know where the film lab is. I jut my chin, telling him the door is just beyond a few bushes. He nods his thanks.

There are screens set up in a jagged line, sheathed in filthy white plastic to …

look up, dandelion


And we are driving, just to move around, looking for the tiniest excuse to go here, to go there. After a week of chaos, of early mornings and late nights making everything work it's confusing to have a quiet afternoon and nothing urgent to take care of.

At home, the air in the hallways stinks of fresh paint, cheap and toxic. I get splitting headaches from it. Windows open, then closed, it lingers in the rooms, coating the back of my throat. Grotesque yellow, red and green - wet and sticky for days. Another slathering that hides nothing, as logical as wearing your underwear over your pants.




We sip Turkish coffees in the late afternoon, sharing some sorbet, letting the juices run together at the bottom of the glass and slurping them up. The sun bright, the air cold, we watch people smoking cigarettes The clouds roll past us. There is nothing to disturb the moment. N tells me funny stories from her childhood, about boys that had crushes on her, about bouquets of roses and birthday parties.


I tip my cup over, as I learned to do in Greece. I leave it upside-down on the saucer for a number of minutes, almost forgetting about it, then turning it back over. I always show the cup to N first, as she has a knack for deciphering the cracked sludge that paints the sides.

I see two people looking up at the sky she says, quite certain. I see them too. I can't decide if the two people are looking up in fear, or if they are just trying to see the future. At least it is not one person looking up at the sky, I think to myself.



The next day, I call to tell E I am coming to get her. But she is being held prisoner again. She is being forced to go to a beauty salon for hours while her mother gets a haircut and will be dropped off afterwards. I know she doesn't want to do this. I know she wants to be on the playground, making pies from wet sand.


And then it is growing late. I call and call. 

No answer. 

Finally the phone rings. E says she will stay at her mother's tonight so she does not disappoint her. I hear her voice breaking. Her mother is screaming at me on the phone. She is laughing at me. She tells me I can do nothing. The madwoman has found her Spring. 

I press to take her in the morning at least. She hangs up the phone. 

I try to call back. It is switched off. 

It will be a long night, even with some wine and big bowl of chinese food. This is the moment I fear, the moment I try to forget, the moment when I am furious and lost, the moment I cannot even talk to E on the phone, the moment I have lived a thousand times already. 

It never gets easier.

I wake up at five. I try to write. The paint fumes are strong again. Just a headache and a blanket to wrap around myself. I shuffle around the house wondering what to do, doze off in a chair and then it is eight. I dress quickly, running down the streets my shadow long in front of me. I imagine E will be dressed already behind the door, just the sound of locks turning and then we will be in the playground in a handful of minutes.


She is exhausted. She has not eaten. Her face is filthy, her fingernails black. She blurts out a million stories about yesterday, about how she did not want to go anywhere with her mother, that she was waiting for me the whole day.

We pick a few dandelions that have sprouted by the side of the road.

Comments

At some point, will you come back to the US? Just wondering how the future of E will be dealt with...
julianne

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