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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 …

almost


Things are slipping though my fingers. I can see them, just out of reach as they twirl in the dark. Almost, an almost. And yet at the same time, a full life, days crammed with blessings and laughter. Nights dancing in the kitchen, the baby rocking wildly in her chair, E with her big eyes in mid-thought, N with her Mona Lisa smile. A bottle of wine cracked open, special glasses on the table. There is no way to complain about anything. Impossible.

The life of the reluctant expat is a series of lessons. The opportunities are distant and slim. You have to carve them out with your bare hands if you want something to happen. At the same time, there are no distractions here. The work is that of a hermit, of messages in bottles floating inside a bubble on the other side of the moon. The unheard story, the whispered idea.










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