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no gold (things will have to wait)

There is an old Russian expression for the inevitable moment when your neighbors begin renovating. "Searching for gold in the walls." They say, to describe the epic sounds of drills in ancient concrete. You might appreciate this odd humor, this dark joke, this survival tactic. I am not so graceful a man to wrap my thoughts around it. Those drills and grinders, they shake the very walls of our apartment. Early on Sunday mornings and often long into the evenings they go.

This has been going on for the last four months, maybe more. I stopped counting.

I cannot imagine there are any walls left, that there is an entire open floor below us, the wind whipping through the naked beams and nothing else. That is the only explanation. Or that they break down walls, build new ones, find a flaw, some grand mistake and then break all of the walls down again. Not swiftly with sledgehammers, but with one crappy old drill with a dull bit, mashing away, so that children hundreds of miles away…

no change


The city exhales, and hangs at that empty moment without air. There are still Christmas songs playing from brittle speakers, blaring English words to people that do not speak it. At the shopping centers, there are crowds of people sucking on cigarettes in the cold air. They will shuffle back inside, wandering the halls, taking pictures of each other in stiff poses in front of miniature waterfalls. Colored lights are blinking through the water, an endless loop of music and spray.

It all feels completely forced, the stale music, the expressionless faces, the slow glide of the wet mop, the hushed rustle of the broom. I wonder if the cleaning people know that the birds are chirping outside, that the sun is coming out and the last patches of dirty snow are turning into mud puddles.

I buy what we need and leave.

Outside, the sun has pressed though the clouds even more. The streets gleam, wet and blue in the afternoon. The buildings seem smaller and farther away at the same time, as if they have all shrunk twenty feet. But I have not changed at all.



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