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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…

bears

Snow is falling, with the loose-boned abandon of a wounded animal. It is colder then cold right now, -30 at night. A wind whips up. Trees are cracking as they bend into it. The baby is restless. There are dirty dishes in the sink. A guitar leans against a stand, unplayed. I move from room to room, catching my reflection in the iced up windows. As usual, I do not recognize myself. I am not that man with a crust of bread in his mouth and a few slices of hard cheese balanced in a bowl. 

Everything comes to a complete stop. 

January is always like this. It is not a new story. 



Someone is painting in the hallway and the reek of turpentine and chemicals wafts under the front door, one more selfish act. All of the rooms are kept closed to keep in the warmth, but I throw doors and windows open hoping the fumes will go away. The air runs into my nose, hard sharp breaths inside. I decide to go to buy bread.

In the path, a handful of glittery hearts flip in the wind. They are scattered in all directions. Maybe someone got married today, and they are on their honeymoon in a hotel room far from here. Or, maybe they are just upstairs sipping strong tea. I kneel down, convinced I need to take a picture of one of them. An old woman appears out of nowhere, grumbling behind me, cursing as I delay her. I gesture to the red and purple hearts and she sneers. She hobbles past me, her ancient fur coat like the shell of a bear hanging from her tiny shoulders.






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