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streetlights

There is no easy way to say it. I was married to someone I hid from. Tucking E into a sling, I would disappear for hours saying I was going shopping for dinner, and if she fell asleep the excuse was that she needed fresh air as I sat on a park bench with her tiny hand grabbing my pinky until she eventually woke up. I would make my way along the side streets of Greenwich as the sun went down, leaning into store windows but not going in. Eventually I would go home, and as I turned the corner there was a security light that would switch on - obviously attached to some motion sensor. In those strange and lonely moments, I would talk to that light. Each time it clicked on, I felt somehow that the night ahead could be survived no matter what madness waited for us behind the front door.

That was twelve years ago.

Another life, another country.

Today, I turned a corner in Moscow with an all-too familiar bag of groceries swinging from my shoulder. A street light flickered on and all at once I…

night shoot

A poodle scatters across the ice, approaching me. It sniffs my boots in the darkness. I see it is gray, or maybe just a very dirty white dog. The camera is next to me, pointing up at some trees and a streetlight, some apartment windows out of focus behind it. I see an old man approaching and I try to say a quiet hello. The monitor is perched on top of the camera. I am shooting night cutaways for Blackbetty. His nose wiggles, as if he is sniffing the air around me. I stand, waiting for them to pass before I move on to the next location. He stops and says something to me. I think he asks where I am from. I have gotten into the habit of saying "Canada" just to keep life more streamlined. I cannot imagine someone on the streets of New York asking a stranger something like this. Well, I used to think that way. Maybe things have changed there too.

I try to explain that we live a few houses over. He asks what I am doing. I tell him I am making an art movie, just about life, about trees, sky, moon, streetlights. He does not buy it. He repeats a word, over and over "snimat" which I understand is "to get dressed" so I really have no idea what he is asking. He asks for my passport and my registration. The little dog is stiff sniffing my boots. I tell him they are back in the house. He pulls out his phone and is threatening to call the militia. 
"Fine, I am going." I explain, yanking the heavy tripod and camera to my shoulder skidding across the bed of wet ice towards the path that will lead home. 
"Unfuckingbelievable." I announce, to the trees. 
I do not look back. That is what guilty people do. 

At home, I call N and tell her what happened. She asks if I was shooting near some nondescript two story building. I think for a moment, yes that is close to where I was. "Well, you should keep away from there." She explains. "It is not an apartment building."  Of course I want to chew on this silliness, if it is such important building, why are there no guards? But it doesn't matter. I should have known better, and now I am thinking about the next time I go downstairs to shoot the snow falling, or ice on the tree limbs, or a scene of E coming home from school, or something else and that shitty little poodle and the old man with his phone perched by his ear as he calls the militia. That is how my camera gets taken, my favorite lens, my movie. 





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