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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 …

tiny opera

You can hear her through the kitchen wall sometimes. She sings scales, then something I guess is Verdi. She is nameless, faceless. There are so many stout old women in musty fur coats tiptoeing across the icy sidewalk when I do go outside. She could be any of them. 

I assign something to the moments I hear her, like a comet or a moon circling the little world of our kitchen. She is like the rabbit that hid in our front yard when E was born, a random sign of something significant, but impossible to pin down. 
I notice her. 
I miss her. 

Winter has smothered the day to day, the metronome of the week. E is better, but is resting before I put her back in school. I have left the house for a handful of of hours in the past two weeks, just enough to smell the hard soap smell of the gutter, mixing with sliced cucumbers and diesel as I cram eggs and bread and milk into bags I pull across my shoulder. The cars are still trying to run me over, even when I pass the entrance to a parking lot they pull in front of me and I shake my head at them resisting the urge to thump my fist on the shiny black hood of their Porsche. The man's window is down and he stares back at me as if he is memorizing my face. I will never accept this petty hustling, this shoving match that happens every time I set foot outside our apartment. I remember being a boy, stranded in the middle of nowhere on our farm with no one to play with but my brother. We made attempts at games like baseball, employing a complex army of ghost men who ran bases, stole them and could even get tagged out by other ghost players. A few innings into the process, my brother would hit one way into a hay field and by the time I retrieved it he was gone. 

Running to my parents with tears on my cheeks, I would shout about how it wasn't fair for him to do that. They would shrug their shoulders, maybe laugh at me a little. "What did you expect?" They would ask me. "Do you really think the world is supposed to be fair?"



N is at her mother's house. E is fast asleep, her arms twisted in a ballet pose above the blankets. I walk the rooms, a box of her cereal under my arm. I cannot sleep.

All at once, the walls light up. I hear a boom in the direction of the White House. On the balcony, I imagine I will see tanks and explosions. It is just fireworks, flaring into the sky long after the children are asleep. This place is a real fucking Disney Land I tell myself, as the river reflects red pom poms and trickles of white. 

Closing the window, the smell of gunpowder and smoke drifts into the room. It isn't a holiday. It isn't Chinese New Years. It is just some random noise and lights for ten minutes on a Saturday night.   
 

I dream of E's mother running across the bedroom and to the balcony as if she is going to jump to her death, but then she catches herself. It does not happen in slow motion. It is all very real. She is wearing all white.






Comments

liv said…
An autobiography, from the very beginning. Yes, that is what is required! How did this boy from there become this man here? The story needs to be told.

So glad E is doing better.

The photo of the fireworks??!! STUNNING. A Marco North jewel, that one is! So glad you don't give up. Stay well yourself and please continue to resist the urge to pound the hood of that car, this is not NY!

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