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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…

suitcases and guitars (on my way to where)


I have passed it hundreds of times. A suitcase under a thick layer of dust sits outside an apartment door across from ours. The only fresh marks are accidental, someone brushing against it exposing the old stiff leather. Maybe it is empty. Maybe there is junk inside that never made it to the garbage trucks downstairs. It was invisible, but I would like to think I would notice if it went missing.

Standing in the hallway, camera in hand I look down the stairs, their banisters shining in the late afternoon sun. To the left is the suitcase, and now I finally see it, the ironic metaphor. The people that never go anywhere are behind that door.

And then, on the way to the new market where they sell thick cuts of ribeye, where the floors smell of ammonia and sweet coffee. Here is a balcony, just a few feet off the ground. Closed in, as is the tradition here. A place to store sleds and boxes of books. A guitar hangs crooked from a wall staring back at me. The cold is terrible for an instrument like this. It will warp the neck, make it almost impossible to play or keep in tune. It stands like a trophy, like all of the guitars in the corners of teenager's rooms in those films from the 80s. Unplayed, an empty boast.






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