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running away with the circus (looking for dolphins)

There are three of them, a brazen woman with bright eyes and a big voice, a man going grey with a hop in his step and a younger woman who might be their daughter or their niece that twists her short hair into little tufts. They roam the hotel, sometimes in elaborate costumes, letting us know that there will be a secret dance party near the ballroom in an hour.

The older woman strolls in during dinner in a costume of blinking Christmas lights and exotic face paint. V stares up at her, convinced she is a princess or a fairy or maybe both. The next night, she is all in black, great horns wobbling on her head. She always has a pair of black Converse high tops on, as if they go with every costume or maybe they are the only shoes she owns.

The man is typically dressed as a pirate, in a striped shirt, maybe an eye patch. He is perfectly relaxed, like his limbs are made of silly straws. The younger woman is always smiling, her mouth a wall of metal braces and lip gloss. I imagine they sleep …

rumashki

A woman I was involved with on and off for more than 7 years once confessed to me that the only happiness in her life could be described as fleeting moments, odd surprises that vanished as quickly as they surfaced. The rest was predictable and disappointing. Naked under her sheets, I was struck by her sadness. I made us breakfast, as she shuffled around in her great blue silk bathrobe, wearing old glasses and looking wistful. I wish I could ring her up right now and ask her if she is happy. I imagine she would say yes, after a long pause. I imagine she would say "just not the happiness I might have expected".

In the face of chaos in a country described as a police state by the locals, I am grasping for these moments, not as a form of satisfaction. No, as a set of stairs to climb. These moments give me strength, and resolve.

Last night, one of the kittens was attacking the newly decorated christmas tree in full force. At 3AM she took a leap from the top of the tv set, and landed high in the false, plastic branches. A sparkly bird in her mouth, she rode the tree down to the floor with a tremendous crash of German ornaments bought at the Saks on 5th Avenue so many years ago. In Russia, when a glass breaks, a vase - anything fragile - they say it is for luck. Little grey Julia stared up at me in the darkness. She had accomplished what she had set out to do. She looked satisfied.

A few days ago E came home from detskie sad with the nanny to find no one in the apartment. She asked to come to the studio, and they surprised me, jumping around in the window in front of my desk. For dinner, we ate milk and cereal from coffee cups and drew pictures of girls named Masha and Sasha. On the way home, after 10, E chattered away in her rickety pink stroller. A few pretty girls called out to me, joking and asking why I was out with a child so late. E burst into laughter. I sighed a few minutes later and asked E what in the world I was going to do. She smiled up at me and told me "Dodya Feya" - -which means "Fairy Godmother". She told me she was coming, and I should not worry.

This morning I went to rinock to buy fresh bread and raisin pastries - - bulochki iziom. For the first time, I read the little paper for them and saw they have a nickname - - rumashki (wild daisy). These are E's favorites, that she eats in the middle of the night when she is hungry. If she only knew she was eating daisies.

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