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to be an expat

How can I even begin to explain the experiences of an expat?  The great assumption is that East and West are terribly different. One is vilified, the other painted as a land of patriots and heroes. One is crude and filthy the other has streets paved with gold. Look up and you will see miracles of architecture. Beyond the windows there are supposed to be good people, open smiles and warm hearts. How can I tell you that none of this is true? How can I untie my shoes, and somehow put them on your feet three thousand miles away? You would never believe what secrets they have to tell.

Every time I go back to the states I become more embarrassed to be an American. I overhear conversations in the street, the whines of privileged and moneyed voices. Coddled, dumbed-down and mislead they are drunk on a calculated fairly tale. And then back in Moscow, the same ignorance - the same questions from curious taxi drivers about how good it must be in America, where everything is possible and life mu…

the arc of avoidance / grasshoppers (the good dream)

She has questions about her mother. She sees the bedroom door closed, the depression, the woman behind it obsessed with money and the skin on her face and nothing else. 

She wants to know why this woman lies to her about almost everything. She wants to know why the refrigerator is near-empty in that house. She tells me about the memories she has of the three of us living together, and a specific fight one summer day. E remembers holding my neck and hanging off of me as that woman was screaming and how I took her outside and we had a long walk down by the river until the sun went down. E knows I told her some important things that day, but remembers none of them, just the look on my face, and the hoarse, embarrassed whisper of my voice after the argument.


The hot water has returned and we breathe relief. It is the time for putting things behind us. I make sure she takes a good long bath. She has a black ring around her neck even after the skin on her fingers has pruned up. I put the red plastic bucket behind the sink.  The arc of avoidance swings hard today.  This is the cleansing breath.

She wanders through the house on tiptoes, the towel wrapped tight around her.

The next morning she tells me she had a good dream.
"What was in it?" I ask.
"Well, it was you and me and we were in a house." She says.
"This house?" I ask.
"No, a house we never went to." She replies. "And there was a swing from the roof and I was on the swing and you were pushing me."
I nod and sip some coffee.
"And there were some grasshoppers in the street, and they were all walking in a line." She says, smiling. "They were all carrying a piece of corn."
"Really!" I say.
She nods.
"They were smiling." She says. "All of them."

Comments

liv said…
Exquisite photo!

She is so worth - everything.
Incognita said…
She has such a magical aura.

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