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I believe in artichokes

Italy did ruin me. After that first trip I came back disgusted by bodega coffee, which now smelled of old socks. Before, it was just fine. I rolled my eyes at red sauce joints, detouring old standbys like a stranger. If eating can be seen as a religious or spiritual experience I had been to the mountain. In time I would return on pilgrimages, always holding the simple pleasures in my thoughts.  An artichoke, methodically fried in good olive oil, with some salt. Black truffles, good butter and fresh pasta twisting around the back of a fork. A very cold and tiny glass of porto bianco sipped in a Genoa bar, with my friend Federico. A man cleaning sardines on a block of wood in the street. A woman selling green figs that she wraps into a newspaper cone. I have thousands of these memories, these artifacts. But I live in Moscow, where there has been an embargo for years now, and there is no population that expects perfect mounds of fresh cheese. They ship powdered palm oil here, that gets …

another life


There must be people that are not influenced by the seasons, or the weather. Rain must leave them unchanged. Snow may not fall in pirouettes outside their windows, then later on piss-stained piles. The sun must not finger into rooms late in the afternoon, drawing the edges of chairs and tables, buttery and warm. And at night, the streetlights must not feel like sleeping guards, leaning against the sky. The scatter of gravel under a car wheel, the wet thump of garbage thrown, the low moan of the trucks as they take it away. The smell of ice, antiseptic and sour. The smell of fresh cut grass.

I am sure they do not appreciate a fresh cup of coffee, foam dancing around the edges. Or a cup of tea, ruddy brown and wobbling in your mouth as you sip. Or a cold glass of water in the middle of the night, slugged back with the refrigerator door wide open.

None of this matters to them. They are not ruled by the whim of wind and sun. They do not stare out of windows, waiting for answers. They do not take that step back, saying "When winter is over I'll start."

I do not wonder about that life.
Give me the endless Russian snow, because it gives me time. Give me the loneliest streetlight and I will paint a portrait of him.





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