Shades of heaven

Shades of heaven

“Can I come over?” I’m sitting in my family’s dining room at night with the lights on bright, and I’m still crying. It’s my 28th birthday, and although I’ve had a birthday dinner over the weekend, at the end of this particular Tuesday, I’m sitting in an empty house in September, and it feels wide … Continue reading

The hard days

The hard days

I catch a train from Penn Station out to Mineola, Long Island. I’ve never been to Mineola, but there is a Marriott hotel there called Springhill Suites. My friend Meghan is staying there while she’s in town for a funeral, and I tell her, “I’m catching the 6:51 train,” so she is waiting for me … Continue reading

The way things end

The way things end

“It’s the way things end. I watch it all slow down around me the moment before it fades. I try to inhale the last moment when every step is a last step.” – Dec. 15, 2009. It’s a Wednesday after work in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, where the front door spills out onto a … Continue reading

Same thing, different continent

Same thing, different continent

It’s bike rush hour. The sun is brilliant in the cool morning, and I left my house fifteen minutes later than usual. I’ll still be on time for work, but I won’t be early. I like being early, the time that I usually use, when I arrive at 8:30, to settle into my chair, boil … Continue reading

Belong everywhere

Belong everywhere

“Je me sens comme une vraie hollandaise!” I exclaim to my landlady as I walk through the door on Wednesday, soaked in rain. We communicate in French, and I’m telling her that I feel Dutch because I rode my bike home in the rain, like the parents who pile their toddlers into seats on the … Continue reading

Let it be uncertain

Let it be uncertain

“This moment shall be vivid. Bring on the Islands, the foreign languages, the unfamiliar streets and let it be uncertain. Everything’s uncertain. I feel the excitement that lies therein.” I wrote the words above when I was 22 and departing on a ten-week self-directed research trip in four countries. I was dramatically alone, but I … Continue reading

To love and to serve

To love and to serve

“There’s a serial killer killing prostitutes,” my mom tells me on the phone. It’s the end of July, and I’m calling to catch up, as I try to do most days. She tells me that she missed my call earlier because she was on the phone with the homeless shelter in Philly where she spends … Continue reading

cracks at the seams

cracks at the seams

In the rush of water crushed against rocks, the men grab the edges of children, spilling from the press of bodies in the boat, water up to the knees, no hands thrown up in joy. Arrival like its own new fear, every step a strange push forward. Desperate people will always find a way. In … Continue reading

No room for grief

No room for grief

It is almost Christmas, and my mother is standing in the kitchen, between things. “What am I doing?” her question resounds, but it’s not because she’s forgotten. She looks lost in the room. I’ve never seen her like this before, absent. I hold the shell of her in long hugs when she can’t decide what … Continue reading