Posts tagged "childhood/family"
Something to Lie About

Something to Lie About

My fourteen-year-old sister electrocuted herself in the bathtub in the Bicentennial year, 1976. She had memorized the Declaration of Independence; she had crocheted granny squares in red, white, and blue. We lied for decades, saying “accident” and “carelessness” to explain how the blow dryer got into the tub. The lie blurred the explicit nature of...
Not Nothing

Not Nothing

My mother tells a story from when she was pregnant with me. The early eighties. My father came home in the small hours of the morning from the bar—the one he both owned and drank at two blocks from our house—after my mother was long in bed. Common when he drank, my father couldn’t go...
But Whyyy?

But Whyyy?

Me, forty-one, walking with Theo, four, and we are in the totally age-appropriate rut of why, and but whyyy, and I am not at all annoyed, just enjoying the moment because he is, barring a medical miracle, my last progeny, and he will never be four again and one really can’t bank on grandkids because...
Night Patrol

Night Patrol

“Don’t sleep,” he says. My father’s right arm, a steel rail, reaches across my chest to crank the passenger window down. Darkness floods the cab of the old pickup truck, cold needles of December air, smells of creosote and snow. We are driving the dark roads of the Mojave, looking for my stepmother. “10-4 on...
Death Sentence

Death Sentence

I caught head lice in a kindergarten epidemic that had the school nurse knocking on Miz Goforth’s trailer door to check our class with her portable magnifying lamp every day for a month, and though I don’t remember much from my childhood, I easily recall the feel of that spindly plastic comb on my skin...
To Disappear & To Find

To Disappear & To Find

The flat of Ohio spreads in subtle swales before us, the sun melting over the cornfields. That’s what my son likes to say: the sun is melting. He sits in his car seat, face lit up in morning light. He is three, and five days out of the week, we make the hour commute to...
Partido

Partido

I am eight years old and lost in my daydreams outside Kmart as I weave in and out between the iron bars used to keep people from stealing shopping carts. Suddenly I become aware of my father’s gaze. I meet his eyes and find myself immobilized by the disgust in his scowl. He speaks—calmly, matter-of-factly:...
Out Back

Out Back

They hear me coming before they see me. I round the corner of the house, my entrance heralded by cockatiel cheeps and peeps and a call just for me. So quickly they have learned my new routine. I pause at the window, press my face to the screen. Through double walls of mesh and cage...
Olfactory

Olfactory

These days, she is furious about his smell; men’s deodorant, she says, and doesn’t want her clothes washed with his. He is offended. He once held her against his bare chest. She furrowed into his freckles, into his chest hairs, now spindly like worms out in the sun too long. They breathed into one another’s...
Ghost Story

Ghost Story

One fall I was a ghost in my own house. That time, when divorce was imminent but my husband and I were still living together, only the children could see or hear me. The laundry floated downstairs to the basement, then floated back up to the second floor, washed and folded. The dishes floated from the...
Friday Night Mariachis

Friday Night Mariachis

The Guadalajara restaurant’s sidewalk marquee boasts Live Mariachis! but the band is only two older Mexican men toting battered guitars and strolling between tables, taking requests. Their black slacks are shiny from wear; one of the men is missing a few teeth. As they approach, my two children urge me to request a song. Whether...
The Closet of Many Heads

The Closet of Many Heads

My father’s mother has worn the wigs for as long as he can remember, and even my father admits he’s only seen her without one once. She lines the wigs industriously on her closet’s only shelf, each atop its own Styrofoam head. Each ash-blonde pixie cut seems identical to its neighbor, sets of twins frozen...
Bewildered Passengers

Bewildered Passengers

Although no adult had declared it off-limits, the trainyard gave off the creosote smell of the forbidden. The place felt dangerous, with grass tall as our thighs, insects buzzing, grasshoppers springing this way and that in the brittle summer heat. It was the kind of place where I always seemed to end up with Patrick....
Main Street Revisited (Minnesota, 1989)

Main Street Revisited (Minnesota, 1989)

Walleye and sweet corn. Five Star and Pepsi on my father’s breath. That summer Lizzie and I waited tables at the breakfast and chicken joint while Emily, the preacher’s kid, worked the cafe down the street. Pastor Dan wasn’t out of the closet yet.  We walked booth to booth with hot coffee for the retired...
Constellations

Constellations

1. Dr. A, my mother’s handsome Bolivian neurosurgeon, lost his father on Everest. I pictured whorls of snow, a worthless compass and a man, stepping out into thin air. I was slightly in love with Dr. A, and so was my mother. Her first appointment, she said, “I know you’re married, but this is serious....
Simple

Simple

When I was seventeen, I spent a lot of time in another family’s home. We slept on futon mattresses back then, covered in flannel, with thick dark fabric over the windows. The beige carpet was scorched and melted dark where the frying pan of cigarette butts had tipped over to smolder. That summer, I lived...
Blood and Whiskey

Blood and Whiskey

There’s an old photograph of me and my dad, taken one day during hunting season. Daddy stands tall in the picture, his legs apart, the butt of his shotgun braced between them. The barrel points toward the wintry gray sky. He’s wearing his red-and-black plaid hunting jacket and a hat with furry flaps. His eyes...
The Mailbox

The Mailbox

The year is 1952. My mother spends her days stitched to a chair and stares out the kitchen window looking for my father, who has been on a drunk for two weeks. She worries he will come home and even though he has lost the front door key, will figure a way to break down...