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no gold (things will have to wait)

There is an old Russian expression for the inevitable moment when your neighbors begin renovating. "Searching for gold in the walls." They say, to describe the epic sounds of drills in ancient concrete. You might appreciate this odd humor, this dark joke, this survival tactic. I am not so graceful a man to wrap my thoughts around it. Those drills and grinders, they shake the very walls of our apartment. Early on Sunday mornings and often long into the evenings they go.

This has been going on for the last four months, maybe more. I stopped counting.

I cannot imagine there are any walls left, that there is an entire open floor below us, the wind whipping through the naked beams and nothing else. That is the only explanation. Or that they break down walls, build new ones, find a flaw, some grand mistake and then break all of the walls down again. Not swiftly with sledgehammers, but with one crappy old drill with a dull bit, mashing away, so that children hundreds of miles away…

the wall



I am still unsure about how one foot follows another, about how there can be a roof over our head. There was that time when I was just treading water, chin at the surface as I measured the weeks until rent was due again. Then, the slow climb to a life lived with the minor comforts and I dared not look down, knowing the vertigo that waited for me if I did. The years unfold, little check marks on an invisible bedpost. My stomach still turns when I look too far backwards. They say nostalgia is a dangerous mirror, but I have no sweet longing for those lost years. I simply cannot turn my head.

The days are full now. I know what happens, but I don't take account of things until my head hits the pillow. There is so much to do, and I still feel like I am just scratching the surface somehow still treading water - a different water at least.  There are needs and wants and headaches upon headaches. There are rushed wishes, and long waits for replies. Living here, we feel unknown and forgotten half of the time. Out of sight, out of mind. But maybe the whole world has evolved to that, and we are in good company. The face in the mirror is mine still, that I know. It stares back at me, sad and quiet.

The kids break me out of these moments. V is on the verge of words, her face a mixture of recognition and thought, lips pursed and ideas bubbling to the surface. She is all about taking your hand and dragging you from room to room of the apartment, pointing "aaah!" and then "ahhh!". Some secret often makes her want to laugh, and she fights it for a moment, which of course makes it even funnier. And E is taping band names to her bedroom door, now closed. She is obsessed with music and which album is better the first one or the third one and "Can I buy this EP?" is her first question on most days.

I imagine cracks forming in some giant wall. It is smooth and white, almost shiny. The cracks are there under the surface. I can hear them if I rest one of my ears there.

Maybe something big is coming.




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