Posts tagged "childhood/family"
At Sea

At Sea

He holds the rock in his hand, size of a grapefruit, color of an orange if the orange had been scuffed with sand. Rough and bumpy, surface flaking with dried mud, it glitters in the sun, and I think how when I was a boy I might’ve been scared, the idea of my dad as...
The Crab Story

The Crab Story

Nancy would tell me to write about the crab; the crab’s funny, it’s human, it’s real, not like the oxygen or the catheter or the morphine; the ugly accoutrements to death are too predictable, she’d say, no one wants to see that mess; maybe the crab story is the direction to take, the one I...
All Hat, No Cattle

All Hat, No Cattle

All hat no cattle, C says as we drive through Lubbock, Texas. My endometriosis has flared and we’re on our way to Fun Noodle Bar when we pass the boy in the Ray Bans and the fake cowboy hat, his upper lip bristled with a patchy 20-year-old mustache. The boy drives a pick-up truck, a...
Balsam

Balsam

When I overheard my father say the words master baiter, I thought it must be the ultimate fishing lure. I practiced writing this new phrase in a spiral notebook, never once trying to spell bait like ate or eight. My father’s only magazine subscription was for Outdoor Life, and by the time I was eight,...
Bus Stop

Bus Stop

Bus horns wake you, alone in bed with the kids — you drove up for his conference, you knew he’d be gone all day — last night he said “All of Chicago is your playground,” while you fussed about the room searching for bus fare, your head drowning with worry: ‘What if we don’t have...
Decade

Decade

I sit on the pool’s edge and watch my daughter swim. She dives underwater then surfaces beside me. “Momma,” she says, “I was trying to see how long I could hold my breath…what it would be like to drown but couldn’t. I popped up for air.” I kiss the top of her swim cap. “Your...
Welcome to the Grotto

Welcome to the Grotto

We drive to Dickeyville in search of Jesus and find him entombed behind glass. My seven-year-old daughter Ellie marvels at the mystery. Of all the places Jesus might’ve called home, how did he choose a small town somewhere in southwestern Wisconsin? Welcome to the Grotto, a sign reads, Gift Shop in Back. We exit the...
The Reincarnation of the Absent Father

The Reincarnation of the Absent Father

“Oh, hi,” I said, holding my newborn son for the first time. I took in his translucent skin, red fuzz, bright baby blues, and…didn’t recognize him. “Who are you?” It hadn’t been like that with my daughter. She’d had the look of my husband at birth so completely that I could only laugh at her...
A Small Consolation

A Small Consolation

“Don’t hold your breath, baby. You’ll turn blue,” my mother always said. But my five-year-old daughter inhales. She holds her breath until her skin flushes, her eyes bulge, until I stop clipping her nails. “Okay, okay.” I drop the clippers on the dining room table, zip up her coat, slide the straps of her backpack...
She Titles the Email “Things are Moving Along”

She Titles the Email “Things are Moving Along”

My best friend from high school emails me, It’s been so ungodly hot. Her horses go unridden and stand under pitch pines, slapping horseflies away with tangled tails. I remember Virginia in the summer, humidity threatening to throttle us. We’re down to three dogs, she writes, because Kylie got hit by a car a few...
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...