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every other man

The light outside the main entrance to our building has gone out again. The heavy metal door swings wide as I pull a hat down over my ears. In the darkness there are maybe twenty teenagers standing still. My boot scrapes across the ground, slowing down. Their hands in pockets, shoulders hunched, I look for a space to pass between them. A voice appears, saying hello in English, with an obvious accent. I am all instinct, sayingpivyet as I pass, not looking back, wondering who said this. There was a boy that was an extra in Blackbetty that lives in our building, but he is too young, too short for it to have been him.

I look back, navigating the puddles in the street. It does not make any sense.

N is with V, making their way home. I meet them, pulling V into my arms as she chatters about her day, about dry leaves and princesses, about her grandmother's apartment and what she ate there. We are going back home, and I try to explain the odd collection that stands outside. As we pass th…

Brooklyn Bridge (eggs and sausage)

She stares out the window, at the bright dots of light across the river and the silhouetted stones of the Brooklyn Bridge passing in front of us. It is all a fantasy, a fairy tale kingdom, a place she was never going to see before she was 18. There was another nerve-wracking wait in that room in the Moscow airport, staring at the scuff marks on the floor, the familiar edge of that sad lonely desk. We waited there for forty minutes, our documents being examined in some room we could not see by people who did not know our faces. E was ready to surrender, her face dropping lower and lower, her lips shaking as she tried not to cry. We had been in this exact moment, in this exact room six months ago and it did not end well.


But somehow, on this random Friday morning the gates swung wide. A woman appeared, waving us on with our documents in her hands. She had long red fingernails. E began to smile, a sudden Cheshire cat next to me as we bought crappy hamburgers and slurped on giant sodas before boarding the plane. She asked me a thousand questions, about what to do, how to move her seat. It was already an adventure and we had not even gotten off the runway.




Our first morning in New York, I bought her a black leather motorcycle jacket. She looked like a lost Ramone, her hands shoved into her pockets, knees poking from ripped jeans as we walked uptown. A celebrity turned the corner of Houston and eyed us. Her neck craning at E as we did the same to her. It was a brief, silent exchange. I told E who it was a few steps later and her eyes lit up. “That was Cameron from Halt and Catch Fire? Ohmigod.”

She gets tired, tearing up the sidewalk with me. She sleeps like a pile of rocks each night.

Today we got to Washington, where I will shoot part of a documentary. We wake up early, and I lead her to the Cup and Saucer on Canal street. The sky is just getting bright. Old Chinese people are doing tai chi on basketball courts, the music floating around us. The diner lights are bright, the owner is alone inside. I see the front door is closed. He hustles over and unlocks it for us. We sit at the counter. I order eggs and sausage, the blueberry pancakes for her.

His employees straggle in, some lifting a heavy door behind the counter, stepping down into the floor like some kind of magic trick.

A women brings us coffees. The owner is singing Christmas songs as he slaps my egge around in a bowl. He gets half of the words wrong, out of sync with the radio but nothing stops his singing. E’s pancakes hit the grill and he scatters the blueberries on them like he is Jackson Pollock. E looks up at me, tired, a sheepy smile plastered on her face.

“This is New York.” I whisper to her.
“I know Pop, I know.” She tells me.








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