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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…

my kitchen, my rules

The Sunday laundry hangs limp from the drying rack. E's tights and jeans and underwear stare back at me. I am restless, as sunlight grows across the bedroom reaching into corners behind doors and then the hallway. That burnt ozone smell drifts through the cracks in the windows, the scent of electricity and trains. 

Another ultimatum has come down. 

I am now being censored. Every Monday I was afforded the right to tuck a message in a bottle and toss it out into the world. I spoke the truth and withheld names. I found relief in free expression. Now I am being told if I write anything critical, specifically about E's mother I will pay the consequences. Legal or not, valid or not, serious consequences will be the result. 

The light has painted itself from the balcony windows all the way under the kitchen table. 
Living under ongoing threats, living in fear for years is very different than a few months. There are sprints and there are marathons but they both end. This is a race that never ends, and cannot be won. It can only be endured. 

The sun is hard on my face now, and I have to squint. I want to stay here in this quiet room next to the bed with half a cup of coffee on the little black table. I always write here. I can look out at the sky when I am stuck, or at the textured beige wallpaper that peels at the edges just a little where it meets the ceiling. There is so much to write that will now go unsaid but I will not make excuses. Plenty of writers created masterworks in situations just like this. Maybe our story has grown stale and this will inspire a new perspective, a new gem to polish until it sparkles, a gem to stare into as I search for its center. 

The coffee cup is empty now. I am already wondering what to cook for dinner, shifting my thoughts from fear and anger to the creative obstacles of flour and butter, of meat and salt. In the kitchen, I am free. 



Comments

liv said…
I am so sad that anyone has this power over you. Your writing has always been remarkable for it's piercing honesty. You will continue to be amazing and worthy and deeply honest even as you sidestep that subject. There are many other things to focus on and the cacophony of your life will always draw eager readers who can easily read between the lines.

As always, your photos are stunning. Thank you for sharing your eye and your heart.
Sarah said…
Oh Marco, I am so sorry. I love reading your posts. They bring me back to the Russia of my children. I don't know why but, you are not alone in your situation in Russia. Why is this so prolific in that part of the world? Why are the Oligarchs my kids go to school with here in London also still in prison even here? Know we are sending you, E and N strength. My little 5 year old Russian has learned some choice Russian words from his buddies at school he can yell at her for you! Please keep posting.
Marco North said…
Sarah - I have no plans to stop posting but felt a need to share the latest developments. Thanks very much for your humor and support.

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