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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…

the woman



I don't pretend to know more than what I witness. My eyes have seen tears, or that laugh that surfaces afterwards and it would be easy to glue everything together into one explanation. But that would be a mistake. Maybe even she does not know the whole truth.

But when she calls, I answer - if it is to march next to her, or to go buy some toilet paper. I cannot imagine my life without her and I sometimes think of writing a book about the man I might have become, wild and angry, yelling at cars in the street, a pimple on the world, a lost cause. It is too simple to say "she saved me" even if that is what it feels like. She calmed me. She loved me. She held her hand to my forehead in my darkest moments and they passed. Wife and mother and friend, my greatest critic, my greatest supporter. My heart leaps still at the sight of her.

I saw some family movies of N when she was young, maybe twelve. This is the skinny girl cracking gum that teases me still. Hands on hips, elbows out, eyebrow arched as the little arrows fly. Tiny little truths stinging my arms.

Today is the anniversary of the day we met. It was cold and dark. She smelled of narcissus, her hair a sleek curve that bounced at her shoulders. And she laughed. She laughed and laughed.








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