three things (about marriage, kopeks and guitars)

For as long as I have known my wife, we have never owned a measuring cup. Instead, a pair of white ceramic souffle dishes from Ikea have been used to make pancakes and pies, cookies and and rice. If we ever lost track of them, rooms would be searched - eventually revealing E's odd habit of filling them with dry cereal to pick at late at night. Every time I pull one of these white cups from the cabinet, I think of N and how different we are, and at the same time - the places we are the same. That is the marriage lesson in these cups, truly not an actual cup measurement but one we have adjusted to, one we have shifted our recipes to fit. Be it my weekly pizza dough or the cakes N makes for V, with vanilla and sour cream on rainy days - these cups are how we see the world. I cannot imagine losing them, but at the same time I know the day will come when one tumbles to the floor by accident, or slides off the edge of a table on a hectic afternoon  I bought us a proper set of measuring cups last week, with grams and English measurements on them, almost as a joke. They are sturdy, and fit nicely together. N slid them into a drawer, where we will surely be able to find them, should those white cups exit our kitchen after years of graceful service.

Downstairs, there is a pile of kopeks next to the garbage bins. A ruble is far less than a penny, and there are one hundred kopeks to every ruble. Of course, stores here still charge to the kopek, and often expect you to pay with them, conveniently rounding the total up to the next ruble, scrounging for Soviet-era profits from willing customers. It seems to be a small price to pay for walking without pockets sagging with coins. The kopeks are not there to be thrown away. They are for someone that actually needs them. Three hundred of them would buy a potato or two.

E announces to us that she is finally ready for an electric guitar. She shares random pictures and sounds with me, as I try to narrow down what she is after. We agree on a telecaster, a grey one. The last one in Moscow seems to be in one store, not far from my film lab and we shuffle there on a cold Sunday afternoon. I play it for her, check the neck and the pickups. Her face is a perfect combination of fear and excitement. Sliding into a gig bag, I help her shoulder it as she walks in that familiar forwards lean down the street towards the metro. At home, we plug it into my amp and she plays it for a few hours, her door open and then closed. I remember my first electric guitar, a big orange Gretsch and how it seemed like a superhuman tool, something that required you to wear a mask and a cape to play properly. Of course it is just wood and metal, paint and lacquer, but I am convinced that guitars carry memories of the people that have played them. They are alive, like cameras and watches.


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