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cold nostalgia

There is a note, stuck to the front entrance of our building. The hot water will be turned off for ten days. This is something that happens every summer, although it snowed a week ago and children wander the playgrounds in ski hats these days. At night it can be 40 degrees fahrenheit.  The hot water is always turned off like this, at some point during June or July. It is a long-standing Soviet tradition, and people begrudgingly accept it here. But the baby, V does not. She wants to stand in a hot bath before she goes to sleep, to splash and pour water all around her, and N. She wants to stand and wiggle her tiny hands under the spout, as she grows pink and clean, as she howls and shouts for us to see what new trick she has improvised. There is no explanation for her, why the hot water is off today, and will be tomorrow. She is angry, furious even.

I used to buy the story that this offered a chance for the water department to fix pipes, to take care of routine maintenance. Hot water c…

hard water

We are all together, celebrating deep into the night. E is chirping like a little bird, at one moment plinking the keys of a piano, the next swapping the costumes on a small army of dolls. N is chewing on dried persimmons, talking to an endless stream of relatives on her phone, all wishing great things for us this year. I slurp down champagne after champagne, not the slightest bit drunk. 

I see everything with a cold eye. It has started to snow. A woman's lipstick is smeared. A bored teenage boy is about to fall asleep. There is a perfect handprint mark of flour on my jeans from the dinner I cooked earlier, in our apartment.

My thoughts run to the minutes just after midnight, driving to pick up E. She emerges from behind that door. She tells me her mother will leave her with us for the entire week. The madwoman claims to have fallen in the bathtub and her brain has been hurt, that she will soon go to the hospital and will only be better on Saturday. E winces at the transparency, the half-baked lie. It saddens her, but not as much as she feels good to spend a week off with us. 


The dim light in the sky tells us nothing about the hour. The streets are silent. E is hungry for an egg sandwich. N will sleep for another few hours, her perfumed shoulders a warm mound above the blankets that I sneak in to kiss, wondering when she will rise.

And then after picking through the leftovers, after some board games and E has gone to sleep, we watch films late into the night.

The house is clean. The dishes are washed. There is nothing to do, for once. There is nothing to wake up early for.


A cautious optimism fills the hours. So many battles behind us. So many won. I see a march to progress in E's face, and in the drawings she makes. We are like water, eroding the hard edges of rocks. We bend, but never stop. We are wearing the monster down, molecule by molecule.





Comments

Banker Chick said…
Have a wonderful and Happy New Year.
Sarah said…
Happy New Year! I love reading your blog. I have three Russian children and I really feel for all you are going through with E. and her Mum. All the best for a wonderful New Year!
Omgrrrl said…
In the words of Tom Robbins, Beowulf that Grendel.
Elizabeth said…
Wishing you happiness, health and peace this year!

Liz
pegbur7 said…
Wishing you a wonderful new year.

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