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to be an expat

How can I even begin to explain the experiences of an expat?  The great assumption is that East and West are terribly different. One is vilified, the other painted as a land of patriots and heroes. One is crude and filthy the other has streets paved with gold. Look up and you will see miracles of architecture. Beyond the windows there are supposed to be good people, open smiles and warm hearts. How can I tell you that none of this is true? How can I untie my shoes, and somehow put them on your feet three thousand miles away? You would never believe what secrets they have to tell.

Every time I go back to the states I become more embarrassed to be an American. I overhear conversations in the street, the whines of privileged and moneyed voices. Coddled, dumbed-down and mislead they are drunk on a calculated fairly tale. And then back in Moscow, the same ignorance - the same questions from curious taxi drivers about how good it must be in America, where everything is possible and life mu…

a scream, a howl


There is a scream, as we sidestep the giant puddles in the parking lot. My neck cranes. There is no car speeding off, no body on the ground. The screams come again, now more than one person and I understand it is some teenagers playing in the woods. E's face relaxes. She was worried, the same as me. A delivery truck guns its engine, passing us creating a wave of frothy brown water. It is another monday here, a trip to the hardware store to buy cleaning supplies, an empty chore.

Trees are bending in the wind. I pull a hood tight around my ears.

A dog is barking, howling, whimpering. We see it, turning in circles, yanking against its collar.

Half of the neighborhood is up in arms while the rest of us make our way in silence.

Behind the grocery store that was simply gone one day, its doors a great loose mouth of brick and dust, I find a penny on the ground. Not a ruble, not a kopek but a penny. I show it to E.
"It's probably one of yours." She says, out of the side of her mouth.
I think of the people that pick through the garbage cans, maybe finding one of my pennies and tossing it, useless into the night.









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