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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…


I am sure you have had a week that made you think the sky was actually falling. The sleepless nights, the long talks in the kitchen that begin with "What if we ..." and then the long stares out of dark windows, the murky sounds of the neighbors shuffling around. We are all living on quicksand, and are just good at pretending we are weightless.

There are weeks when it all comes crashing down.

I went to the store, and bought some potatoes, sour cream and a little container of ikra (salmon roe).  At home, I grate the potatoes, squeezing them over and over to get the moisture out. Then a big red onion, and half of a zucchini that was hiding in the fridge. One egg, salt and pepper. I fry the pancakes in batches, letting them turn golden brown, flipping them more than once. They drain on paper towels. There is music playing in the warm room, as the windows steam up. We are all at home. V is running around like a cartoon. N is on the phone with one of her relatives. E is lost under headphones.

"Dinner is ready." I announce, and they trickle in.

There is a bottle of prosecco that has been rolling around the back of the fridge for a year or so. I find myself cracking it open, pulling the champagne glasses down from their high shelf. I make toasts to our family, to our future, to our success. There is nothing else to do but face the grim realities with an open heart. My fingers are greasy, as I eat with my hands until the plate is empty. The roe pops against the roofs of our mouths.

Maybe there is a way to float across the quicksand.


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