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(looking for) the heartbreaker

It has been more than two months sitting at the little white table in the living room, writing. Pushing out pages, fixing these pages, living with these pages then waking up and chewing them apart again, then adding on a new section. It is a mill, grinding the raw ideas down to a fine powder that may somehow rise and become bread. Or it may not. So many thoughts begin with "what if". What if they get stuck in an old elevator? What if she is not home when they come the first time? What if she is coming back from the market and passes them on the stairs? What if the driver is older? Or younger? What if his brother shows up instead? The questions are greater than the results on the page, the dialogue is whittled down to nubs of something recognizable.

There are cold cups of coffee, emails that go unanswered. The light comes and goes, and most of the work is done in the dark in more ways than one. Cooking dinner helps. Playing some guitar helps. If you are not careful you forge…

(looking for) the heart of Saturday Night


A tail of fresh bread, torn and eaten in the street never fails to give me faith. When I was young and lonely it was the semolina from Ferrucci's on 1st Avenue. I might even fish an olive out of the plastic container, my fingertips oily and slick in the street as it burst in my mouth. Now, it is from a Georgian stall at rinok, the open market I visit on Sunday afternoons. Here are familiar faces - the fish sellers with their horizontal striped shirts. I point at a plump seabass and they nod, tossing it to open hands behind the counter where it will be cleaned and filleted for me in ten minutes. I mumble a few words they already know, about doing some more shopping and that I will be back. Next, a special corn flour for chadi, a Georgian version of a hush puppy for lack of a better term. Madlopt, I tell the woman. Thank you in Georgian, one of the handful of words I can use. Her surprised smile flashes at me, the polite foreigner.

At home, I peel the tough skins from asparagus, a rare treasure here. I am making dinner for my wife on a quiet Saturday night. There is cold bottle of Fiano in the fridge, waiting to be uncorked with a satisfying pop. The little one is running around in warm tights, pulling a train across the floor. It is already cold in Moscow, and we are waiting for the heat to come on. I dredge the fish in flour, a dusting of garam masala and then into the pan. They grow crisp and fragrant, as N drifts in and out of the kitchen, her face curious, her chin on my shoulder for a moment. I have been cooking for her since the very day we met. I know of no simpler, better way to say I love you than to set a carefully prepared plate of food in front of her.

At the last minute, I pull together a version of a sauce gribiche from what is in the fridge. Garlic, capers, parsley, and sure maybe a little mint is tossed in the bottom of the pan, finished with a splash of that glorious white wine and a stump of butter. It swirls and emulsifies, and is spooned across the fillets. I call her to the kitchen and she is somehow flustered and confused and busy because there is always something she thinks she must be doing right at that moment. I pour her some wine. I place a fork next to her plate. I stare at her as I always have.
"What?" She asks.
I say nothing for a moment.
"How do you like it?" I ask.
She eats a corner, nodding - then, some asparagus. I have dressed it with just a sliver of butter and a squeeze of lemon.
She nods again.






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