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no invitation

We are at a 3 year old's birthday party in the back room of a cafe. Music is pumping from a tiny speaker. Balloon animals are popping, and waving in the air. A man in a yellow dinosaur costume dances wildly. Parents snap pictures with satisfied smiles on their faces.

A little girl approaches gingerly and stands in the doorway, straying from her parents somewhere inside the restaurant. She cannot be more than three. It must be hard to ignore all of the noise coming from this room packed with celebration. There is a perfect little pony tail at the back of her head. She hesitates, as one foot poises in the air and then rests back down. How to understand that she was not invited. How to understand the laughter, the loose jumping bodies, the presents piled high on the window. None of this connects to her. There is a little plate of food waiting for her back there, in the quiet restaurant. Maybe a warm bowl of soup, thick with noodles. I watch her for some time.

That night, her empty e…

things you think of when traveling


I would like to fall asleep listening to rain. I would like to have a great Thai takeout place to walk to. I would like to be 20 pounds lighter. I would like to be able to play a good B chord. I would like a pair of orange wingtips. Sometimes I would like to have wild locks of hair like I used to. Sometimes I think about how long it takes me to write a book, and if there is any way around that. Sometimes I forget to close the refrigerator. Sometimes I think about this electronics department in a local store I used to visit when I was a boy, staring at the cassette decks and the turntables. Sometimes I think about deer season and the dead animals tied to roofs and hoods with twists of rope, their expressions stiff all looking terrified.

I have a good watch now. I have a new guitar. I have work. I have a new striped sweater that looks like one of N's and I made her laugh when I wore it for the first time. I bought E a film camera for her birthday and she named it Marv. I bought V a Moana doll and she talks to it, as if is real.







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