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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…

Pushkin's wind



As Pushkin wrote, Like an infant wailing low. That is how the wind whips around the houses. Trees bend wildly, like giants losing their balance. 

We were on the playground when the first drops splashed on the seesaws. "Maybe we should go home." I say half-to myself but N agrees. I hoist V to my shoulders, one of her favorite things in life. With her arms grasping at the empty branches over our heads, she sings a made-up song. And then the wind comes and we are all running. I bring V down, burying her face in my jacket. She shouts at the weather, as if her demands will slow it down. The rain comes hard and the streets are dancing with little rivers in less than a minute. The windows above us in the new houses are rattling like ghosts are inside them. Inside the front door, soaked and out of breath we hear the howl as it trickles through the cracks in the windows. 

The next day, I see an entire tree uprooted, its roots as big as its trunk. 

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