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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…

pink houses (I have been here before)




It is downright silly, that path in the woods I never followed. Maybe that is why I resisted, stuck listening to the snicker in the back of my head - the eternal 13 year old we never get rid of. All the same, on Saturday I trudged through the snow, crossed a tiny bridge and wandered through the forest. Families with babies in carriages made their way along narrow paths. Old people moved slowly, eyeing me as I passed them. The camera was tucked under my jacket, to keep the film from snapping in the cold and to avoid being suspicious. And then, the path that leads up, a small gate, a curve of the road and I do not know what is behind it.

It is a pair of tall apartment buildings. I have taken so many pictures of them, and I even shot a scene from Blackbetty in one, and did not realize this was the same building. I have been here before. The streets are empty. A basketball court is covered in snow. A playground is completely still. There are great shiny pipes that snake their way along the sidewalk, taking 90 degree turns above entrances, a tangle of galvanized steel. The streets lead to dead ends, a tiny pink building with no one inside. There are clumps of icicles, like long hands by the sides of buildings. There is a warm spot of earth where there is no snow, as steam coughs from a dark hole. I follow ever alley, peeking through fences at a garbage dump, at the rusting carcasses of old cars. A quiet wave of satisfaction moves across my chest. A secret corner of the city opens up. There are stories to be told here.







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