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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…

pianos (a different life)




There is a strange hush over the neighborhood. Each overcast weekday feels like a misplaced Sunday morning. The ground wet, the leaves yellow and beginning to rot, the cars puttering through the puddles all become a little symphony. Old women carry plastic bags of carrots and potatoes. There are babies in muddy strollers, most of them asleep. 

The wind does not howl. The crows are still acting wild. barking in little packs in the tree tops.

There is a pile of pages, a towering stack of them, neatly lined up on my little white desk. The pen sits ready. A cup of good coffee is growing lukewarm. I have already begun to accept the new name of this book, Papa on the Moon. 

The door bell rings.

Typically it is a salesman, or shady looking people offering cheap internet service. I ignore the ring most of the time, and then tiptoe to the peephole, deciding if the silhouette in the hallway is dangerous or not. I rarely open the door anyway. Whatever it is, we don't need it.

The bell rings, over and over. I grit my teeth, and open the door. It is a policeman, his automatic rifle swinging from his neck. He is not so tall, his hat cocked loose on his head. He speaks quickly and I try to explain that I can only understand about half of what he is saying. "A man" he says over and over. And then our apartment number. I think he is saying the man is drunk and that he is our neighbor, or that he has a piano and he says I am playing the piano too loud, or maybe he is our landlord and he is drunk and says we have a piano. But there is no piano in our apartment.

I offer to call N, to get some translation but he shakes his head, waves his hand for me to follow him. I take my documents, lock the door. We go up a few floors in the narrow elevator. I cannot imagine what is going on now. There are paramedics in the stairwell, and another policeman. A man with black hair stands in the center of them. He could be from Azerbaijan, maybe Tajikistan. A plastic half-gallon jug of beer sits on the dirty tile floor at his feet. 

I begin to guess that the drunk guy said he was coming to see me. There are quick words. Obviously he has no idea who I am. The policemen tells me to forget it. They got the wrong apartment number I guess. The man with black hair wobbles on skinny legs and looks at me with giant sad eyes.

Back downstairs, I lock the door. sit back down, and stare at the pile of pages, these old stories from a different life.




Comments

liv said…
And you returned to cold coffee
A fresh cup is absolutely called for!

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