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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…

the white square

It may be a form of going to church. Shouldered by the humble, there must be a flaw followed by a confession, then a naked stare. There is no room for ego and boasting in this corner of the world. Just the offering, the thin pile of pages that grows in spurts. The marks of blue ink, the subtle changes, the swooping corrections, the reprinting of those same pages now growing like a forest of saplings.

I dreamt of a great room to write in since I was a young man, a perfect replica of Frank Lloyd Wright's office, the one on display at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. How many times have I leaned against the rope across its entrance. smelling the old wood, the ancient carpet, marvelling at the low light and the expanses of wood. Ah, what books could be written in a room like this! What pages of insight and pain, of soulful revelations.

Instead, there is a fold-up table from Ikea. It goes out on the balcony when I am not working to save space. It is small, the surface already scratched, with legs that wobble under the weight of my elbows. It all happens on this tiny white square, the building of worlds, a telescope pointing back towards the earth not at the stars, looking hard at the actions of lost people, witnessing their wrestling matches.


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