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to be an expat

How can I even begin to explain the experiences of an expat?  The great assumption is that East and West are terribly different. One is vilified, the other painted as a land of patriots and heroes. One is crude and filthy the other has streets paved with gold. Look up and you will see miracles of architecture. Beyond the windows there are supposed to be good people, open smiles and warm hearts. How can I tell you that none of this is true? How can I untie my shoes, and somehow put them on your feet three thousand miles away? You would never believe what secrets they have to tell.

Every time I go back to the states I become more embarrassed to be an American. I overhear conversations in the street, the whines of privileged and moneyed voices. Coddled, dumbed-down and mislead they are drunk on a calculated fairly tale. And then back in Moscow, the same ignorance - the same questions from curious taxi drivers about how good it must be in America, where everything is possible and life mu…

anything was possible (suffer no more)


E carries a little bag with camera batteries, hovering behind my shoulder peeking at the monitor. Her mouth twists a little, eyes on me, then back to the monitor. I explain to her what I am trying to say with this shot, how well it is working. She nods, not a word, just that knowing look. It is the very last scene to shoot, a young man leaving his work and heading home. I am trying to expand that moment when the tie is loosened, that long wait for a street light to turn green and then the crowd walking across, how a person can get lost in this moment.

All of the stories from this little film are lives I have led or witnessed. The betrayals, the arguments in living rooms, the date that became a short affair ending as abruptly as it began, the weight of the everyday, the dread of confrontation, the sad hope for more. The characters are young, except for one.  These are little glimpses, broken pieces of a collective life.

There are trains, and streetlights, people staring, leather jackets and an old man closing his eyes as the wind whips into his face. These all came from my past, my days in New York when messages wobbled from answering machines when you got home drunk, tripping over the mess you had left behind. That was when anything was possible but the mood was that nothing was possible.






Comments

liv said…
I...I don't even know what to say.

This is absolutely top notch.
The song is beautiful - thanks for the introduction to this artist. And your sensitivity and skill in bringing his words to the visual was w o n d e r f u l !

I am so proud of you I could just burst.

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