April’s theme at You Are Here Stories is Reclaiming Place. This marks my fifth YAH contribution.
Tears streamed down my face as I huddled in my corner of the backseat of our wood-paneled station wagon. I was crying as quietly as I could, not wanting to attract concerned attention from my parents, or ridicule from my two younger brothers. As the car sped north and west—across the causeway to the mainland, away from the Atlantic Ocean and toward my western Pennsylvania home—I was convinced that my 12-year-old heart would break.
The Best Week of the Year had come to an end.
My father was born on April 4, 1941, which means he would be 75 years old today.
I wish he were still here so we could celebrate together, but in lieu of that, I’ll take this opportunity to share the four-part series of articles written about him the year before he died.
Happy birthday, Dad! I miss you.
Here’s my fourth You Are Here Stories post. March’s theme is Mess & Place.
The stack of plates next to the sink had bits of dried cheese and other unidentifiable foodstuff stuck to them. A frying pan and a couple of saucepans were soaking in dirty dishwater in the sink, along with handfuls of cutlery. Unwashed drinking glasses were colonizing next to the dirty plates. I had just recovered a couple more from the living room where they had been abandoned, water rings left behind on the garage-sale end tables.
The house was quiet. The students who weren’t still sleeping in their bedrooms were scattered across campus, attending class or studying in the library.
And I was annoyed.
My third You Are Here Stories post is filed under February’s theme, Money and Place.
When I was a little girl, I thought my daddy made all the money. That’s because when I once asked him what he did at work, he told me, “I make pennies.”
I probably was too young to comprehend the complexities of managing a blast furnace for US Steel, which is how my father actually spent his days back then. But I like to think I might have been able to wrap my five-year-old brain around it to some extent. Instead, I spent quite some time believing that my father worked in a penny factory.
To be sure, he was compensated for his actual work with many, many pennies—and nickels, dimes, quarters, and dollars. Because of this, my life growing up was very different from his.
Here’s my second You Are Here Stories post, filed under the theme for January, Laughter and Place.
Their husbands didn’t get it.
Lauren, Mary, Suzy, and I made plans to meet at Beth’s house near Chicago for a long April weekend. Lauren would drive in from Indianapolis, and Mary could handle the six-hour drive from St. Louis. Naturally, Suzy and I decided to make the trip to Beth’s together, from Pennsylvania.
Which is why we booked flights to St. Louis so that we could drive north to Beth’s house with Mary. Because, road trip.
This is what their husbands (and probably mine, if I had one) could not understand. It’s all about the journey.
My first You Are Here Stories contribution is live. December’s theme is Finding Place. Enjoy!
The snapshot is of a girl in a gray Allegheny College hoodie, one she purchased in the campus bookstore on one of her pre-college visits. She is gazing at the camera, chin on fist, an open notebook on the table in front of her, a pen clutched between her fingers. She is not smiling.
The girl in the gray sweatshirt is me, more than three decades ago.
I look at the photo today, and I remember the melancholy and relief, the complicated emotions I experienced upon completing the first term of my first year of college. I remember that unmoored sensation, adrift between old and new and unknown.
Some of you may have heard that I have embarked on a new writing journey for 2016—starting in December of 2015. It’s a year-long writing fellowship with the You Are Here Stories blog: You Are Here | True stories about roots, identity, and place.
The founders of this blog met in the Glen Workshop West Spiritual Writing workshop taught by Susan E. Isaacs in 2014, in which I also participated. As they kick off their second year of publication, they invited in a handful of new writers to join them for a year-long fellowship. The 11 of us will write one piece every month, inspired by a particular theme, and we will edit and be edited by each other.
I hope you’ll check out You Are Here Stories, both to read my stuff and the great pieces by my fellow team members.
I am here! And I am over there too: