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secret windows (don't look back)

I found myself in a conversation with an old friend, about the crossroads of writing, nostalgia and memory. "Distance and perspective are the upside." I said. "The slippery slope is romanticizing and being nostalgic. Well, that's the memory trap no matter who you are."
"It's funny... I spent most of my life thinking that I had a rather dull adolescence, and it's only recently that I've discovered that these stories are a lot more interesting than I gave them credit." My friend replied. I admitted that I gravitate towards stories that are based on a mistake, a lie - thinking you had some great childhood, when actually it was a shitshow, and you fantasized about being adopted but sort of blocked that out.  


The question wobbled around inside my head for a few days. Was I too fast to judge nostalgia, to quick to brush aside its sweetness, stepping over it towards something invariably darker and sadder?  On Sunday, I was walking on Kutuzovsky,…

the other shoe

 

As soon as the news arrives, I check in on a friend that lives in Brussels. A father, a husband. He is safe, telling me he was in that airport just a week ago. We send messages back and forth. I am working, creating animations for news stories that people read on their smartphones. I have the images right in front of me, with the names of the photographers who took them, the blood and smoke, the giant gaping wound that was once a window. I see hands lost in empty gestures, the faces of stewardesses tight and pale.

Just then a new wave of news arrives, about the metro bombs going off.
I tell my friend there is more going on.
He pauses.
"Not good." He replies.
He signs off, to begin a day I cannot imagine very well.
My phone rings.
E is telling me they are evacuating her school.
A pit rises in my stomach, instantly sour and biting against the walls of my chest. Maybe they are just being paranoid, I tell myself. Her school is just across a small bend in a river that snakes around the White House. They are sending everyone home, that's all. I tell myself.
But really, this is the sound of the other shoe dropping, the one I am prepared for, the one I will not be surprised by. It hangs inches above the ground for months, even years. It looms in shadow, but I go to sleep knowing it is there all the same.
She sends me a message.
"Never mind." She says.
I call her.
There is no evacuation, just a conference of teachers and they did not tell anyone about it. The classroom is going to be used to store their coats or something. Nothing more. It is a false alarm.

E hears the tension in my voice, my words choking out.
"What is it Pop?" She asks me. "I can wait for you in a different room to get me, like normal."
"Nothing." I tell her.
My instinct is to keep this story quiet. Let her live a day longer without a blanket of dread wrapped around her thoughts. Let her breathe quietly, laugh at some little something, look out a window, daydream. Anything but this chewing on the news, this gristle and bone of ugliness.









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