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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…

proof, or not (it all matters)


We all have our sweet tooth, our weakness. Honestly, there is nothing inherently easy about pictures of children on playgrounds, or empty swing sets, or old men playing accordions, or faces behind the windows of train cars. But we may have seen enough of them at this point. Maybe not. I like to go out with a camera in my bag and take no pictures, just walking, my head craning around corners. Sometimes that magnificent collision of life and lens, f-stop and shutter happens, on other days it does not. Like a lottery, like fishing, you have to put your pole in the water - a leap of faith, a little wish or something you just imagined you might find in the world. I have come to believe that the act of intention, the process is what counts With a picture as proof, or not - it all matters. 

A week ago, there was an hour or two before V's birthday party. The house smelled of good food, the dishes were in perfect little stacks on the table. The wine was getting good and cold. We were all showered and changed. V wanted to dance, and we wiggled around in the bedroom, me acting like an electric eel her like a baby swan. We ran from one end of the room to the other, lip syncing to Stevie Wonder. Her laughter arrived in great waves, splashing into the hallway. I might have taken a picture then, but decided to just enjoy the moment for what it was. Something fleeting, and inspired. 



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