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talking to the trees

Most experiences cannot be discussed. No one wants to hear the ugly truth, and chances are you will be attacked for sharing it. To be able to speak freely means that you need a willing listener, otherwise you are just talking to the trees. Time and again I have come to understand that there is no difference between New York and Moscow, no difference between East and West. They are just cults of personality, built on violence and money and moral quicksand.

The life of an expat evolves from those early, awkward victories to one of assimilation or in cases like mine - eventually understanding that you have no country you can (or want to) call home. I am left with just these four walls and my family. This apartment is the only place I actually belong. This is the only place I do not need to soft-pedal my thoughts, where I do not need to apologize for what I have unearthed. The river of betrayal runs deep whether I look outside, or across the ocean. Willful ignorance, willful indifference…

an expat holiday

Every holiday that is not celebrated here is an invitation to surrender, to forgo. There are even a few people back in New York ordering takeout Chinese today. We could be the same, taking E to school in the darkness but then I am struggling to find chestnuts to roast for stuffing, yes there are sweet potatoes somehow and the turkey hunting became no problem after nine years in this place. It takes a certain energy to wake up on a normal day in Moscow and bake pies, brine great birds, roast, chop, reduce, saute.

It isn't the freezing rain snapping in my face that makes me want to retreat. It isn't the everyday sluggishness that overwhelms. It is the faces staring back at me that are not celebrating anything, the faces that will boil some potatoes tonight, nothing special while we are feasting, our bellies swollen with second helpings, our improvised sloppy toasts a mishmash of simple phrases repeated every year. And now V is in her chair to join us, apple sauce and porridge slathered across her cheeks her eyes bright as we whoop and coo and laugh with our heads flung back.

E is asking for more stuffing, always more stuffing.


old swimmer said…
Lovely! And I wish you the joy of the season, no matter what's going on outside!
God bless.
liv said…
Never forgo, always celebrate, it's what keeps you in your "place".

I can only imagine that the banquet on your table was one of the most delicious anywhere, Moscow to Manhattan, the long way 'round.

Tell E that my very, most favorite is the stuffing too. I eat it the next day and the next day until it all gone and then I wait patiently for the next 362 days. And I don't think the day is properly celebrated without bellies stuffed to the full.

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