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the list

It was a simple request, but it took me months to solve it. Soon we will have guests in the house for V's birthday, and the cascading piles of notes and camera parts, the lopsided villages of books, the forgotten bowls of loose change - they all had to find homes. I even bought a collection of clear, stackable boxes just after Christmas, but they sat like empty open mouths gathering bits of fluff and dust in them until today. With little flakes of fresh snow dancing against the windows, I began at one end of the room.

The problem with cleaning is that you constantly find lost treasures, windows into your past lives. Here, a set of notes from a film I was writing some seven years ago. Here, the warranty for a watch I bought for N (that I still need to register). And next, a Soviet ruble that I bought in Tbilisi at the dry bridge market, the location of the lost wonders of the world. Next to a broken saxophone and an old rug, I remember noticing a handful of old coins that I bought…

a visitor

I am in the living room, long dark with just the lamp and the light from the screens. The work goes well, and I am firing on most cylinders. I do not realize what time it is, just know there is laughter and tiny shouts from the kitchen, the gentle mayhem of the three women under our roof. I am obsessed over an edit, playing the sequence down staring close, leaning back, nudging one frame in, one frame out, alternating takes, overlapping sound. Maybe it is fine, but I have stared at it too long to really know that.

I ask myself what kind to music needs to come next. Something hesitating. I tap my fingers on the thick glass of the desk, thinking about how slow it should be. My stomach growls. I probably need to start dinner soon.

And then I look up and V is in the doorway to the living room, on her hands and knees. She has crawled all the way from the bedroom. Her chin is up, head titling back, staring at me with giant eyes N is hunched down behind her, holding her steady. V grins wildly, one of her sweet shrieks bouncing around the big room. I am outside myself. Suddenly standing and swooping down to pick her up, and then there is a stretch of time playing on the bed, stacking the rainbow rings on the yellow cone, putting toys on my head for her to retrieve and there is no thought in my mind, not of war, or the crumbling economy, not of racism or cops killing unarmed men, not of fake food or new diseases, not of warm oceans and dying fish. There is nothing but this bed, no looming elections, just the round face looking up at me, crawling, smashing headfirst into pillows and her muffled laughter.


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