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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…

God moves on the water

Waiting for the other shoe to drop feels like a mantra for living here. There is no question if it will happen, only when the situation will become complete, realized, official. There has been snow, freezing wind coming up from the river and then the cool wet sidewalk returns. We are waiting for the ground to grow hard, the grey sooty piles of snow to hedge in on cars and sidewalks, giant sleeping hulks that go nowhere. The other shoe is not dropping, slapping into quicksand instead, dropping loose into a vacuum where the floorboards should be. 

It is maddening. 

The shopping center opposite that makeshift memorial caught on fire early one morning. It was not the first time I saw a sign somehow engulfed in flames here. The streets were full of camera crews, and a stream of water churned from the parking garage entrance. I had eggs and milk and coffee slung across my shoulder, and could not see if there was a way to pass everyone. I stood right on the spot where the blood and roses caught my attention. It felt like a nexus, a tight spiral of coincidence but without any meaning I could unravel. 

I smelled burning plastic, as clouds choked the dark morning sky. 

A whole turkey was found at rinok, the same as last year. I carried it proudly, heavy as a bag of cinder blocks. The holiday means nothing here, just a random thursday to most. I took E home from school as soon as classes ended. We cracked eggs and tore bread into tiny pieces for the stuffing. She tried to peel some carrots but it was still too hard for her tiny hands. She tasted the cranberry sauce that had been bubbling on the stove for some hours and pronounced it was just sour enough. I steamed pumpkin with fresh grated ginger, stirring and softening and reducing it to a baby-food mush before it became part of the pie. 
"I am making a thankful toast this year." She announced at one point. 
I kissed the top of her head. 

N came home with red cheeks, stalking into the kitchen to nibble the corners of whatever was cooked already, her face a series of approvals. She set the table, put out the good candlesticks, washed the pots and pans I was done with. 
"Put some music on." E said in a big voice.
I put on Charlie Parr for some reason, his version of God Moves on the Water
"This is about the Titanic." I tell E. 
"I know Pop." She says, rolling her eyes. "You already told me."

          A.G. Smith, mighty man
          built a boat that he couldn't understand
          Named it a name of God in a tin, without a "c"
          Lord, he pulled it in
          God moves 
          God moves
          and the people had to run and pray


liv said…
Gosh, it seems like it was just winter there a couple of months ago. In a sense - it must always feel like winter there.

Turkey, cranberries, music and loved ones - sounds good. Be warm, all.

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