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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 …

two storms


All at once the windows are slamming. Papers flip from the tables. A low hum pushes through the air. Hail is dancing off the windshields of cars below. Thunder cracks beyond the train station. Lightning flashes once, then again. I catch a sour, metallic taste in my mouth, like I am sucking on dirty pennies. 

E is terrified. I go from room to room, closing windows, wiping the miniature floods from the sills. 

"It's the end of the world!" She cries, not joking.

I want to take pictures, but she hugs my legs, not letting me move very far. She does not want to sit under the blankets, or in a corner of the sofa. She wants me to stay in the room. 

"Pop, don't go in the kitchen or you'll DIE!" She says, starting to cry.

I come back, rest my camera on the table. I stare at the messy living room for some time, as she hugs my shoulder and we wait for the storm to pass.


I am anxious these days.

Passing through a crowded parking lot that leads to the market, a black mercedes guns its engine and starts turning, about to crush E and myself against a triple parked truck. I bang on the front fender, shaking my fist in the air. I am yelling in English, not Russian. I point at my child. I give him the finger. He guns the engine, gives me the finger back. The militia next to us say nothing, staring off into the horizon.

E looks up at me, that scared and helpless face she always makes when she used to hear me yell. I hate this moment, this expanded heart-thumping minute, when I find myself furious in the street. Sometimes, it is necessary - literally to keep from getting run over. But the aftermath is the same. A sense of resentment. A sense of failure.


It is raining suddenly again. I am making pasta in the kitchen. I have the music up loud. N is shouting.

She appears in the doorway.

"Get your camera." She says. "Now."

I stumble through the mess of the living room, over E's painting project, maybe crushing the leg of a doll in the process.

Just outside the balcony, a rainbow is hanging in the sky - maybe 100 meters away. You can see everything. The base where it blooms from the river, the arc now echoed by a second rainbow that fades off. I click randomly, out of focus, overexposed. I am laughing at myself. N raises an eyebrow, amused as always.

People on boats in the river are shouting. Cars are honking. The streets are wet, shiny.
I set the camera on a chair and just look instead, holding N's hand.

In a minute, it is already gone.

Comments

Incognita said…
Your post just took my breath away. May that be your lucky rainbow and may that luck be far from fleeting!
Banker Chick said…
Here is hoping the storms pass quickly. E will always remember that you are there protecting her, when you can, and the rainbows. You are a fantastic writer.
Annie said…
Ah - gorgeous photos! I'm glad you got to take a few, anyway.

What I'd give to live where you do!

I said something about how he protected me from getting killed in Moscow. How the cars are crazy there. Ilya responds to me, sternly: "Cars SHOULD have the right of way; they are bigger!" He is a Russian. Their way is best. He still uses a broom on the living room carpet. Vacuums are not as good.
Anonymous said…
Hello. I started that blog that I talked about in my earlier message. It is a collective of similar stories as ours from around the world. A collective of sorts. Anybody and everyone is welcome. Here is the address: http://lostchildrenand.blogspot.com/
Anonymous said…
Thank you very much from my heart to yours for believing in me and what I am attempting to do and your posting this. I appreciate it and we connect in a special way.I wish I were there in Russia, although I would rather live in Siberia where I can do ethnographic research and have fun with life, I wish you and your sweet daughter(I have one and two sons) were here in the US of your origins. Farms and pigs need love too. They would make perfect additions to the changing of this world for the better.

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