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the white table

The days are not long. The nights are short. Guitars are hiding in cases, with scraps of paper tucked inside. The pen is full. There is a fresh notebook, with creamy pages. The little white desk is in the middle of the living room, a cascade of receipts and laundry perched on it.

I clean it off, have lunch as it stares back at me. This focal point, this fulcrum where my thoughts become real, this cheap folding table from Ikea. It is familiar, and patient.

dinosaurs (Don't Know Why)


N announced that it was time to buy V a new bathrobe while we were eating breakfast. On my Sunday excursion to the various markets, I went into a French children's store. There were lots of shirts with drawings of tiny boats on them, plenty of horizontal stripes, tasteful frills. A salesgirl shadowed my every move until I waved her off, trying to get her to understand I knew damn well what I was doing. I found a pink shirt with a Peter Pan collar, and a bathrobe with dinosaurs on it. The salesgirl leaped in front of me, saying that this was a bathrobe for a boy and I was making a terrible mistake. Then, without me trying to say anything she understood how ridiculous she was being. "Well, a girl could wear it." She mumbled. I nodded as we made our way to the register.

There is usually a steady stream of terrible mall-music in this shopping center, vaguely euro-disco, bland and tedious. Somehow, Norah Jones came on, singing Don't Know Why. A smile crept across my face, as I remembered hearing Jesse Harris sing it first, at the old Living Room which was just a few blocks from my place on East 1st Street. Ah, Jesse who wrote this song, with his perfect old Gibson, with the unstoppable Kenny Wollessen on drums and I want to say a guy named Tim on bass.  That other life, in the microcosm of the East Village, the free admission and the $5 beer, deciding what chair to sit in but all of them within ten feet of the miniature stage. I sat in those rooms, without the slightest idea that they were fleeting and rare moments. I imagined this music was always going to be within arm's reach, a little bubble of art and song, of familiar faces and good times that I would never leave.

The salesgirl stares at me, her frown turning into a question mark. I pay, and leave the store  - walking until I stand right under a speaker. "My heart is drenched in wine." I do not hear her voice, but his instead - plaintive and vulnerable. I have nothing against her, but Jesse's version is the one I am drawn to. Maybe that is because I felt like I knew him, offering a few kinds words after a show, him flashing his smile, the humble thank you. But that was a few million years ago, and I am gliding down an escalator in Moscow. I need to find some pecorino because we are running low. We need olives and maybe there will be some good chocolates, a sweet little box to surprise N with. I look down at the bathrobe as it peeks from the bag and already see V in it, jumping and twirling before she somehow gets coaxed into bed.

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