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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…

fireworks (a time capsule)


"Pop!" She shouts from the living room. "It was a bomb!"
We are in the kitchen. I do not even look. 
"It's just fireworks." I call to E, chopping some garlic.
There are always fireworks here, a series of holidays I will never grasp or remember. Fireworks for every day, just like Disney World.

An hour later, N calls me to the kitchen and points out the window. In the distance, a building is on fire. Federation Tower, the half-built jewel of modern Russia. 

Old men say it looks offensive, this cluster of steel and glass next to the river. 


Like any New Yorker who lived downtown that September morning, seeing a building on fire like this strikes a certain chord. It all tumbles back. Night becomes day. A time capsule opens and we look inside for a while, from a safe distance. Where we were, what we were doing, the drone of tv sets left on all night, the black cloud that drifted towards Brooklyn, the smell.

I have been standing looking at the flames for some time. N says nothing, but knows everything. She makes us two cups of black tea. I get E to brush her teeth. I put pyjamas on her bed to change into. We sit at the round edge of the kitchen table in the near-darkness.

Monday night, and no one is sleepy.

A helicopter thrashes the air outside the balcony windows. Dogs in the sky, patrolling the territory.


The next morning, all is quiet.
It is over, again.



Comments

liv said…
You see, she was right! "Pop, bomb!"

What a scary place to be living in. Is there anything good about Moscow??
Omgrrrl said…
So what caused it? Reports here say the cause is "not known".
Marco North said…
The official cause is a sheet of plastic coming in contact with a work light - something between negligence and an accident. Two days before the fire, Mirax the developer admitted the project was $250M in debt to the press.

Quite the coincidence.

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