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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 …

Love and fists



On a quiet back street, a woman approaches us. She is short, her long coat like a frayed purple tube around her stout body. There is a giant gap between her front teeth. All at once I recognize her. It is Lubov (literally "Love") E's old kindergarten teacher. She is all smiles, coughing that thick smoker's cough as she leans forward to touch E on the shoulder.

We have that common conversation, about how E is bigger, about her good grades, about how Lubov misses her. It could be the same talk I have with an old teacher from the farm days in a supermarket parking lot.

E's chin digs into her chest. She does not want to say much.

I remember dragging her to school, her clinging to me, not wanting to go in. One morning I brought her late and Lubov met us downstairs. E was in tears. Lubov kneeled down to her, and wiggled the fingers of her hand in the air.
"This is you." She told E, folding her thumb  into her palm.
"This is your Papa." She said, folding another.
"This is me." She said, another on top then wrapping her fingers into a tight fist. "We are all together."
E was nodding.
Lubov shook her fist in the air, driving the point home. E was four then, maybe five at the most. She was ripe to believe.
I kissed the top of her head and left her with the other children.
I can remember walking around in the snow, restless, imagining her a crying mess hoping I was wrong.









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