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no gold (things will have to wait)

There is an old Russian expression for the inevitable moment when your neighbors begin renovating. "Searching for gold in the walls." They say, to describe the epic sounds of drills in ancient concrete. You might appreciate this odd humor, this dark joke, this survival tactic. I am not so graceful a man to wrap my thoughts around it. Those drills and grinders, they shake the very walls of our apartment. Early on Sunday mornings and often long into the evenings they go.

This has been going on for the last four months, maybe more. I stopped counting.

I cannot imagine there are any walls left, that there is an entire open floor below us, the wind whipping through the naked beams and nothing else. That is the only explanation. Or that they break down walls, build new ones, find a flaw, some grand mistake and then break all of the walls down again. Not swiftly with sledgehammers, but with one crappy old drill with a dull bit, mashing away, so that children hundreds of miles away…

an expat holiday


Every holiday that is not celebrated here is an invitation to surrender, to forgo. There are even a few people back in New York ordering takeout Chinese today. We could be the same, taking E to school in the darkness but then I am struggling to find chestnuts to roast for stuffing, yes there are sweet potatoes somehow and the turkey hunting became no problem after nine years in this place. It takes a certain energy to wake up on a normal day in Moscow and bake pies, brine great birds, roast, chop, reduce, saute.

It isn't the freezing rain snapping in my face that makes me want to retreat. It isn't the everyday sluggishness that overwhelms. It is the faces staring back at me that are not celebrating anything, the faces that will boil some potatoes tonight, nothing special while we are feasting, our bellies swollen with second helpings, our improvised sloppy toasts a mishmash of simple phrases repeated every year. And now V is in her chair to join us, apple sauce and porridge slathered across her cheeks her eyes bright as we whoop and coo and laugh with our heads flung back.

E is asking for more stuffing, always more stuffing.

Comments

old swimmer said…
Lovely! And I wish you the joy of the season, no matter what's going on outside!
God bless.
liv said…
Never forgo, always celebrate, it's what keeps you in your "place".

I can only imagine that the banquet on your table was one of the most delicious anywhere, Moscow to Manhattan, the long way 'round.

Tell E that my very, most favorite is the stuffing too. I eat it the next day and the next day until it all gone and then I wait patiently for the next 362 days. And I don't think the day is properly celebrated without bellies stuffed to the full.

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