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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…

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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