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you are not there

We are taking the little one for a ride on her new sled. It is bright orange, with a fuzzy black and white seat cover to keep her extra warm. Her tiny hands in tiny gloves hold the sides as tight as she can. I pull her down a path, shouting "woohooo" and then she replies "woohoo". N's turn is next, pulling her more schoolgirl than mother for a few minutes. There are other parents with children on sleds passing us. Their eyes straight forward, faces completely blank they slip by in silence. I flash a smile to them, and they do not even look at me. I am not there, just another tree leaning towards the stream that runs below.

There are ducks still, flapping around the brackish water and we throw pieces of stale bread to them. I start to think, not about the complete absence of smiles in this culture. I stopped asking about that long ago, told over and again that smiles are reserved for home, behind closed doors. But I wonder, for the children -  these wiggling bu…

Someplace in Mexico (Buddha on the water)




It takes some time for the irony to sink in, that she wants to crawl into a six foot plastic bubble and roll around, buoyed in this water tank on the outskirts of the city. The giant balls are tethered to the launch area. The man who runs the place does not get paid with carnival tickets, just money in his hand. $6 for something like five minutes and I can pay extra to keep her inside when the time is up, depending on how many people are waiting. 

She sits in there, her pants suddenly too tiny, rocking back and forth pretending she is a tiny Buddha on the water. The other children are doing flips, running like gerbils inside their balls. I take pictures, yelling above the din of the crowd that she should do something but she smiles at me instead. 
“That was amazing.’ She announces, emerging after two extra-long turns inside on wobbly legs.
The man smiles at me, nodding.
I tell him he has a great job, that he makes a lot of people very happy. He agrees, offering more smiles and giant cartoon head nods. 


And then we are not there in the water tank universe any more. We are in Moscow, the city she has not left for more than seven years now. 

Walking in the street, we discuss me the places I will take her someday, in order of importance.
     New York
      New Orleans
      Rome
      Someplace in Mexico
      Maybe Puerto Rico
      Someplace in Spain
      A lot of places in Italy, like Bologna
      Not the desert
      Coney Island
      Paris or Portugal
      Maybe Australia







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