I’ve Always Liked the Sun

Lying on an outdoor lounge chair next to a pool. Germany. I was nine or ten. My parents had several aspirational friendships with people much wealthier than us. It was a borrowed life, for an afternoon. A test drive in a car we’d never buy. Their family mirrored ours, sort of: two kids, the oldestContinue reading “I’ve Always Liked the Sun”


She took me shopping for school clothes, before fifth grade, before my family left for Germany. Her black hair was way short. The cancer. She was Greek, adopted by a new Greek-American family when her mother died of the same cancer that would take her, aged 24. In the mall, under fluorescent lights, sifting throughContinue reading “Melody”


I can’t remember if his fist was open or closed. I think I was eight. I stepped out of my bedroom and was walking down the hall, as my brother approached. We were about to pass; he pulled his hand back, and hit me hard. I don’t recall where. My face? My stomach? I rememberContinue reading “Learning”


Somewhere in New Zealand. We were befriended by a farmer and his wife when the Volvo broke down in front of their farm. They insisted we stay, not just for dinner, the whole night. I was little. Three, maybe four. In the morning, the farmer invited me to accompany him on his rounds. Just me.Continue reading “Everything”

The Cutest Boy in the Class

First grade, Oakland, California. Kids were kids in New Zealand; we played house and oversaw menageries of stuffed animals. Here, kids were mini-adults. They asked me what my father did for a job. What kind of car we drove. Whether or not I had a boyfriend. I had a hard time getting across all this.Continue reading “The Cutest Boy in the Class”


Wellsville, NY. The smallest town I’d ever lived in. Before that, it was cities. And then we moved inland, to a town of about 3,000, in the middle of farm country, hunting country. If I talked about Germany, or New Zealand, California, or even Rhode Island, my classmates would call me a snob. They thoughtContinue reading “Horse”

A Mystery

I spent most of my childhood in a shy bubble. I was so slow to learn to talk, people started to worry. And when I did talk, it was at select times, to select few. I lived on the sidelines; sometimes it was comfortable there, watching. Often I pined for the world that whirred alongContinue reading “A Mystery”

Learning to Draw

Washington DC was sweltering and loud. So hot I walked with my head hung low, lifting my eyes to see people’s stomachs, then lowering them again, as though eye contact–seeing their faces–would waste precious energy. I wasn’t interested in the statues of double-chinned white men in elaborate get-ups. What came before–Native Americans living on theContinue reading “Learning to Draw”