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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…

pink houses (I have been here before)




It is downright silly, that path in the woods I never followed. Maybe that is why I resisted, stuck listening to the snicker in the back of my head - the eternal 13 year old we never get rid of. All the same, on Saturday I trudged through the snow, crossed a tiny bridge and wandered through the forest. Families with babies in carriages made their way along narrow paths. Old people moved slowly, eyeing me as I passed them. The camera was tucked under my jacket, to keep the film from snapping in the cold and to avoid being suspicious. And then, the path that leads up, a small gate, a curve of the road and I do not know what is behind it.

It is a pair of tall apartment buildings. I have taken so many pictures of them, and I even shot a scene from Blackbetty in one, and did not realize this was the same building. I have been here before. The streets are empty. A basketball court is covered in snow. A playground is completely still. There are great shiny pipes that snake their way along the sidewalk, taking 90 degree turns above entrances, a tangle of galvanized steel. The streets lead to dead ends, a tiny pink building with no one inside. There are clumps of icicles, like long hands by the sides of buildings. There is a warm spot of earth where there is no snow, as steam coughs from a dark hole. I follow ever alley, peeking through fences at a garbage dump, at the rusting carcasses of old cars. A quiet wave of satisfaction moves across my chest. A secret corner of the city opens up. There are stories to be told here.







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