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molecules and potholes

There is a rift between daily life, and the news that trickles across. In our little bubble, this quiet neighborhood, the price of a bouquet of roses does not change. The eggs are painted in shit and feathers, but taste the same. The little fresh market works on the weekends again, now that the weather is not terrible. Here, they sell overpriced red onions, stalks of broccoli, maybe some green basil if we are lucky.  The potholes sit  half-full with murky water. New buildings grow slowly as construction workers stare into the horizon on cigarette breaks. None of this changes, not a molecule.

But the rest of world is upside-down. Wild laws are passed. Prime ministers become dictators. Bombs are dropped here and there, like rainbow sprinkles on a doughnut - the more the better. Great decisions are made over dessert now, fueled by whim.

Being an expat means more than living far from home. There are many distances to bridge each day, and in times like this I want to throw my hands wild i…

directions


When someone in the street asks for directions I gauge them quickly. When they ask with open, desperate faces I want to believe they want to know which way to go. But, there are some people that use this as a test to see if you are kind, open, if you are trusting. They use this as the first step. There are times when I do not stop, just shaking my head and feeling terrible for judging them but at the same time I have a family and cannot be a fool.

Two times this week people asked me for directions, like most of the weeks in my entire life. In Italy, in New York, in Moscow I seem to bear an invisible badge that suggests I know where places are, and can explain how to find them. So often, this is beyond me but the situation presents itself like a fast moving clock, banging away on every hour.

The first was a woman on a side street close to our apartment, her hands held out as she spoke asking how to get to the metro which is not close. I was with E, and she looked up at me as she always does when I tell people how to get somewhere, with this combination of laughter at my bad Russian and a strange calm as I told them about landmarks, about the simplest way to find the place not using rights and lefts but numbers of buses.

"Just stand here and wait for #20, or walk that way and cross the big street and wait for #11."

The second was a man asking how to get to Park Pobeda on a Sunday afternoon. I asked to make sure this was where he wanted to go because it was quite far from the center. We were less than a kilometer from the White House and could see it from where we stood if the air was not full of mist and snowflakes. I explained to him it was far, and how he should go back towards the big metro behind us. He stared at me with a blank look on his face, like a doctor with test results he does not want to share. I wondered, maybe he did not understand me. I tried to explain things a different way, taking out my phone to show him how to get there on an actual map.

"No, no thank you." The man said, resting a hand on my shoulder in one gentle act. "I'll take a taxi."

He walks away, in front of me because we are both going in the same direction on the same street. I drag my feet under me to create some space. He is not poor. He wears a European man purse snapped to his belt that slaps against him as he makes his way. I think he can afford a taxi. He walks in front of me for some time and at least he is going in the right direction I tell myself.

Comments

liv said…
His brain was probably saying "what? what? what?" I am close to that.
I would be the woman looking lost and on the verge of tears ... no, not really, but I would think you were very approachable...because of E. Hoping you would both say "maybe we should invite her home for tea?"
Hello, I am David Alan Binder and I would appreciate your professional opinion of my website at:
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