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Breathing the right air

Nothing brings more comfort than a bag of good things to cook, swinging under your arm as you make your way home. Somehow it blots out the rest of the world. In these moments, the entire universe consists of a late afternoon sun, a stray dog and a clump of flowers growing strange and wild in a yard. A hit of basil jumps from my elbows with each swing of the bag, a gift from one of the ladies I buy from the most. I visit markets without intention, just eyes open ready to discover fresh peas, or the first corn. Knowing that these products will disappear as quickly as they present themselves creates a certain form of excitement. Each season offers up this rhythm and without it I might become completely lost.

I think of when we were in Tuscany a month ago, feeling like such a tourist until I wandered out along the highway and found the local vegetable stand. I shoved squash blossoms and tiny tomatoes into a bag, rushing back to our room like I had robbed a bank. I made pasta with them th…

Even the flies know how to find the openings

There are butterflies that come in from the balcony, flapping hard against the walls and the ceiling. They end up by the windows, smacking against the glass for a few minutes then resting. E runs through the house, shouting about them. I watch the tiny creature, wings closing in slow motion as it regroups. There is something ironic about a being that is so beautiful and so tragic at the same time. Even the flies know how to find the openings. 

There was a pair of butterflies that did this last year, almost to the day. I wonder if this is one of their children. I wonder what it must be like to live for just a few days and then die, a week or so at most, much of it slapping against windows trying to somehow get back outside. It seems impossible, yet merciful. 

The streets are full of people wandering in the heat with fresh flowers tucked under one arm, with cigarettes dangling from the corners of their mouths, with blisters on one heel, with spare change for the woman wrapped in black cloth who curls up on the sidewalk, her face on the ground with one hand thrust out, palm to the sky. There are people selling pineapples for three dollars, one cut open to show the inside with a small knife plunged into the center. It always disturbs me, standing wet and sticky in the fruit no one is buying. 

E skips next to me, chirping some dialogue from her latest Niki Dashentine story. She is ready to buy an ice cream, looking up at me from under the straw hat I bought her. 
"Do you think there will be another butterfly when we get home?" She asks.
"Anything is possible." I tell her.
"But would it be the same butterfly or a different one?" She continues.
"How would we know?" I ask her.
She thinks for a moment, her mouth twisting around.
"We could not know." She says.
"So then, we have to guess if the same butterfly would come back." I tell her.
"Nah." She answers. "It would not make the same mistake."














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