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the lost years

I spent almost 25 years living alone in New York. There might be a moment on a shoot, when it became clear we would be running late. Phones were slid from pockets, as the crew had hushed conversations with their loved ones. That solemn, apologetic tone was the same no matter who was talking as they answered the question "When will you be home?" I had no one, nothing but an empty apartment and some dirty dishes. I had half-written books, and guitars leaning against the walls. There was film in the cameras, waiting to be developed.

I have almost no memory of these years now.

Right now, V is sick. Nothing terrible, but enough to stay home and parade around the apartment in her favorite pyjamas. N is cooking various treats for her, unable to predict which one she will actually eat. The doorbell rings, and it might be a doctor visiting from the local clinic but it is her sister. The rooms are full of conversation and fresh cups of coffee. I try not to step on the toys that are a…

the cold and the bagels



A warm hat is pulled down past my ears down to the back of my neck. I did not even bring gloves. It is just after 6AM and I am weaving through the streets of the Lower East Side. Allen, Orchard, then the big open stretch of Delancey reaching off towards Brooklyn across the Williamsburg Bridge. It rusts slowly, pieced together with great metal plates, always a low rumble but strong, still standing.

There is the smell of reheated bacon, of fresh bread, of ammonia. I sneeze once, then again. It is colder than Moscow here.

And now crossing Houston, full of construction and barriers and men in thick jumpsuits while the cars are taking lazy turns on yellow lights. The sky is starting to grow lighter. I look once at the old place on 1st Street, not even a phantom shiver now, not even a prickle on the back of my arm. Yes, I lived there for so many years, never imagining I would need to go above 14th Street. A shrug of the shoulders, mostly against the wind that has picked up.

I read the names on awnings, a sort of game to find good names for characters. Rose. Bruno.



Ess-A-Bagel is quiet. No music, no chatter. A handful of people work in silence, turning the fresh bagels into metal baskets. The windows are getting steamed up. I smell yeast and salt, fried onion, coffee. I want to tell them these are for E, and they will travel halfway across the world today, that a girl in Moscow will stick her nose in the bag tomorrow and breathe deep, knowing this is the smell of New York at 6AM, the crackly outside, the chewy depths, the poppy seeds that stick between her teeth.

But I say nothing, buying a mixed dozen without drama. They are heavy on my wrist as I fish one out to fuel my walk back downtown.

The lights are coming on everywhere. The sky is blue turning paler. The garbage trucks are groaning to a stop then slugging back into action.

My feet know which way to go.




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