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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…

sometimes, yes


Late Friday night on the way back from a friend's house V falls asleep in the car seat. I am next to her, her little hand going slack in mine. N is navigating the slick, slushy lanes looking for a place to park. Under a great tree, next to shiny pipes that run above the earth as they snake through the neighborhood we get out of the car. Our movements are methodical, ginger as the baby is pulled from her seat and I pull her to my chest. Her jacket makes little squeaking sounds against mine as we walk along the wobbly ice. I think of a party I went to when I was finishing high school, all local artists and friends of my parents. There was a girl, I want to say her name was Chelsea. In any case, she fell asleep, her face resting against my arm. I found myself offering to carry her to the car, while her mother gathered their things. Her father was not there. I carried that little girl the same way, feeling those rag doll arms and legs swinging loose.

V is working against gravity, sliding down and then I gently move her face back up to my ear. We pass some unknown neighbors, no looks, no traded glances. I move slower, the ice is in lopsided stretches here. She feels heavier now. Her hair smells like fresh yellow cake. I think of so many fathers I have seen carrying children like this, solemn trophies. Is it so strange to understand I am one of them? Sometimes, yes.

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