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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…

only time

E's hand went to her throat and her face turned in on itself. I ferried bowls of soup to her bedroom, kept her at one end of the apartment, a kleenex in her hand when she needed to touch a doorknob to go to the bathroom. She rested. She chattered with her friends from school over the phone, getting each day's homework assignment and working away at her desk. No fever, no throwing up, just bouts of sneezing and a little mountain of used tissues from blowing her nose. 

A few days later she was rested, a little bored. 

Then, my throat grew tight. A headache seized me in the middle of the night. I took to walking around with a surgical mask on, keeping away from N and the baby. I made a new pot of soup thick with garlic and ginger and chili, with the last of the fresh spinach but soon I was sneezing wildly, wrapped in blankets on the sofa. E rested her head on my shoulder and told me to sleep. I worked when I could to distract myself, already feeling so far away from N and V, peeking at them through a crack in the door, wondering if V had gotten a tiny bit bigger, if her face does new things when she is sleeping. I missed the sight of her carrot-orange poops, the changing of diapers and that trip to the bathroom with her in my arms to wash her tiny red bottom, to make jokes at her face in the mirror oggling up at me.




The chicken soup is bright yellow, with tiny puddles of fat on the surface. I boil fresh noodles, wander around the apartment seeing my face in that mask when I pass a mirror while everyone sleeps. I bought these masks as props for the film I shot last summer, as a metaphor for futility  - that they would protect no one during a bombing attack, but people put them on to make themselves feel better, an adult pacifier, a golden ticket for a show that would never play. Of course I imagine they do something to keep my germs from flying around, but cannot help but think they are just as useless. Only time will correct this. 







Comments

liv said…
A beautiful blend of N and you. But more so you. Incredible how parents can be spotted in such a new and tiny face.

I could spend hours, months, years staring at that face and watching it grow, change, reveal.

Oh ... I get to, I will ! So far away, yet a part, albeit a tiny part, of this incredible thing.

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