Claudia was staying at the professor’s loft apartment near the river. It was a winter when the sky changed endlessly from one shade of gray to the next, which she found arresting in an uneventful, soothing way. Claudia had met the professor at a meditation class, she offered Claudia the use of her loft while she was on sabbatical in Belarus. The professor was an expert on conceptually driven art as a response to cold war ennui. Her loft was full of thick heavy books, strange almost discarded-looking objects and old 16 mm films in metallic cases. Claudia roamed about the first few days examining all she saw but quickly lost interest, the work felt too abstract and barren, desolate in a way that made her shiver. The grey skies intrigued her far more. And then there was the swirling coppery brown river and the smell of cedar by the old wharf. She somehow knew this smell of cedar, it was a familiar haunting, one she had perhaps been born with, maybe it went back even farther than birth. She tried rubbing the smell into her wool sweaters but only managed getting a sticky blackish resign on her sleeves. It gummed up the wool in a way she found quite pleasing. She would take long walks along the water’s edge, passing some of the quaint colonial architecture but mostly focused on the water, the small riptides and whirlpools caused by sunken planks and other mysterious forces. The water was alive, something buried within operating and active, ready to grab an unsuspecting ankle or wandering foot. It gave Claudia a playful thrill. She was somewhere new, somewhere familiar and ancient and provocative too. She wasn’t sure what would happen next in her life, she felt so incredibly fortunate to be alive.

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