• Family Dynamics

    Take Us to the Snow

    When I was five years old, my dad promised to take me and my sister to the snow. We lived in a suburb of Los Angeles, and the idea of snow was as foreign to me as the idea that people lived anywhere but California; I knew it in the abstract, but when I tried to solidify it in my imagination, it dissolved like so much mist. The memory of my dad promising to take me to the snow is one so old that I don’t actually remember it anymore; it has been repeated so often over the years that it has the cemented certainty that oral tradition imbues a story. Long…

  • Family Dynamics

    She’d Have Liked That

    She died on Thanksgiving Day, hours before dawn. We had known it would be soon, but had hoped someone would be with her when she went. As it was, we were spending twelve hours a day at her bedside, taking turns holding her hand and waiting. But she met death on her own terms, and really that seemed fitting, even if it haunted us. I don’t like to remember her as she was in those last days, but I do, especially on Thanksgiving. Her previously plump cheeks had been hollowed by cancer, her downy soft silvery hair like a cloud above the gaunt temples. The worst were her large, china doll…

  • Family Dynamics

    What If

    “Should we wait for Emile?” I ask. Grandpa doesn’t slow down, and each steady stride of his equals three of mine, even though everyone tells me I’m tall for my age. “No,” Grandpa answers. Emile is my sister. It’s pronounced “Emily,” but everyone always says it wrong. She is two years younger, and we fight a lot. She is annoying because she follows me around and always messes up my side of the bedroom. She was still putting on her windbreaker and shoes when we left. Grandpa told her we’d be on the beach walking toward the point, although I would rather just wait for her. When we pass the…

  • Alcohol and Sobriety,  Family Dynamics,  This is Me

    “What do you want to do for Christmas this year?”

    “What do you want to do for Christmas this year, hon?” I felt myself jump, even though I know I didn’t actually do it on the outside. We were driving home from dinner, and I mentally cursed the twenty minutes on the freeway ahead of us. Twenty minutes of what would very likely be a Marital Dispute. Someone, probably God, was punishing me. Faster than you could say “Let’s change the subject, sweetie,” the memories of the past few Christmases wheeled through my mind. Like last Christmas, when family members didn’t cooperate with my ideas and Mike and I opened presents alone. I felt guilty for forcing my plans on…

  • brushes
    Family Dynamics,  The Sacred Arts

    Art Supplies

    I lifted the garage door for him. He wasn’t as spry as he used to be, though at his age it’s to be expected. The hinges squealed, as if I were punishing them. I knew my grandpa had a lot of hobbies, but the sight of all this mid-century crafting supplies momentarily took my breath. Not only were there boxes upon boxes of unidentified storage, there were jig saws, yellowed canvases, pieces of colored glass, tiles, drafting equipment. “I think it’s all back here,” he said, slowly wending his way through the stacks of dilapidated cardboard. “Wow,” I muttered under my breath. All of these costly supplies, going to waste…

  • Family Dynamics

    Mother and Son

    “He didn’t sleep well last night,” my sister said, passing off the baby to my open arms. She didn’t need to tell me. I could tell by the faint smudges under her eyes, the baby’s unnatural disinterest in his breakfast. He didn’t whimper at being handed to his auntie, but he didn’t greet me with his usual new-toothed grin. Sister reached for coffee cups, one for her and one for my brother-in-law, who shuffled in with a similar face. “I don’t think he’s been feeling well,” she explained. Mom came in after me, and reached for the baby’s forehead. “He feels a little warm.” “And it explains why he’s been…

  • Adventureland!,  Family Dynamics

    Camping on the Beach

    One of my favorite times of year is fast approaching, and I am feeling the customary combination of giddy anticipation and frazzled nerves. No, I’m not talking about spring break – that ship sailed long ago (and my do I miss those days). Sometime between February and April every year, my entire family goes camping at the same location we’ve been going to since long before I was born. My grandparents took my dad and aunt and uncles when they were still toe-headed kids with scraped knees, and my initiation took place some time around my first birthday. Ever since, we have gravitated back to this quiet place at the edge…


Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: