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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…

she knows



The call comes. I ask E if she is interested. She shrugs her shoulders. It has been about a year since she did a voice record. I can't tell if she is removed or wants to do it. I ask her directly, yes or no and no is ok. She wants to. I think of parents I have seen, ones that push things on their children, tricking them, guilting them. I want her to chose this, or to have a normal Friday afternoon. We could just go for sushi and look out the big windows at the people on the street below. 

I take her from school the next day. We order a taxi, siting hot in the back seat in traffic. The weather changes so quickly here. We go upstairs, and wait for half an hour but I remind her how important it is to be on time. She nods, she knows. 

The script is long with plenty of alternates. I hear her voice through the speakers, so serious these days, and she needs to slow down. The directions come, little fixes to the text get made. She sits, a little slumped, pencil in hand. I hear her struggling in a good way, searching, finding the right balance, finding the way to go up at the end of a sentence even though the urge is to go down. Man, she sounds too much like me, I tell myself. This is surreal. Well, she has been on this side of the glass for so many of my voice records, am I really surprised? 

She needs to sound younger, more innocent, more naive. I tell her to shrug her shoulders a little, to feel the curl of the corners of her mouth go up and how that changes the sound. People always want it to sound sweeter, happier. 

And all at once we are done and people are shaking hands and bowing heads and little avalanches of thank yous are raining on us. I pull her close, tell her quietly that she did good, that it was a tough script and a long one. Her chin pinches up, her eyes as big as saucers. 

She knows. 




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