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there is always something (why I shoot film)

There are maybe ten shots left on the roll. Outside the metro, a collection of pigeons sit on minuscule ledges above two old men. They talk as all old men do, with operatic waves of their hands, sour expressions, belly laughs, eventually scratching their chins as they stare off at nothing in particular. I am pretending to take pictures of something near them, then swing across when they are not looking to shoot a few frames. At one point I surrender to the afternoon and move on.

And now, the courtyard that leads to the film lab. A great old building rests here, a school of architecture where students mill around dressed in black sucking on cigarettes with giant portfolios tucked under their arms. A young man approaches me. I am ready to tell him I have no idea what he is saying, but he wants to know where the film lab is. I jut my chin, telling him the door is just beyond a few bushes. He nods his thanks.

There are screens set up in a jagged line, sheathed in filthy white plastic to …

my kitchen, my rules

The Sunday laundry hangs limp from the drying rack. E's tights and jeans and underwear stare back at me. I am restless, as sunlight grows across the bedroom reaching into corners behind doors and then the hallway. That burnt ozone smell drifts through the cracks in the windows, the scent of electricity and trains. 

Another ultimatum has come down. 

I am now being censored. Every Monday I was afforded the right to tuck a message in a bottle and toss it out into the world. I spoke the truth and withheld names. I found relief in free expression. Now I am being told if I write anything critical, specifically about E's mother I will pay the consequences. Legal or not, valid or not, serious consequences will be the result. 

The light has painted itself from the balcony windows all the way under the kitchen table. 
Living under ongoing threats, living in fear for years is very different than a few months. There are sprints and there are marathons but they both end. This is a race that never ends, and cannot be won. It can only be endured. 

The sun is hard on my face now, and I have to squint. I want to stay here in this quiet room next to the bed with half a cup of coffee on the little black table. I always write here. I can look out at the sky when I am stuck, or at the textured beige wallpaper that peels at the edges just a little where it meets the ceiling. There is so much to write that will now go unsaid but I will not make excuses. Plenty of writers created masterworks in situations just like this. Maybe our story has grown stale and this will inspire a new perspective, a new gem to polish until it sparkles, a gem to stare into as I search for its center. 

The coffee cup is empty now. I am already wondering what to cook for dinner, shifting my thoughts from fear and anger to the creative obstacles of flour and butter, of meat and salt. In the kitchen, I am free. 



Comments

liv said…
I am so sad that anyone has this power over you. Your writing has always been remarkable for it's piercing honesty. You will continue to be amazing and worthy and deeply honest even as you sidestep that subject. There are many other things to focus on and the cacophony of your life will always draw eager readers who can easily read between the lines.

As always, your photos are stunning. Thank you for sharing your eye and your heart.
Sarah said…
Oh Marco, I am so sorry. I love reading your posts. They bring me back to the Russia of my children. I don't know why but, you are not alone in your situation in Russia. Why is this so prolific in that part of the world? Why are the Oligarchs my kids go to school with here in London also still in prison even here? Know we are sending you, E and N strength. My little 5 year old Russian has learned some choice Russian words from his buddies at school he can yell at her for you! Please keep posting.
Marco North said…
Sarah - I have no plans to stop posting but felt a need to share the latest developments. Thanks very much for your humor and support.

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