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streetlights

There is no easy way to say it. I was married to someone I hid from. Tucking E into a sling, I would disappear for hours saying I was going shopping for dinner, and if she fell asleep the excuse was that she needed fresh air as I sat on a park bench with her tiny hand grabbing my pinky until she eventually woke up. I would make my way along the side streets of Greenwich as the sun went down, leaning into store windows but not going in. Eventually I would go home, and as I turned the corner there was a security light that would switch on - obviously attached to some motion sensor. In those strange and lonely moments, I would talk to that light. Each time it clicked on, I felt somehow that the night ahead could be survived no matter what madness waited for us behind the front door.

That was twelve years ago.

Another life, another country.

Today, I turned a corner in Moscow with an all-too familiar bag of groceries swinging from my shoulder. A street light flickered on and all at once I…

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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