Learning to ride, falling down, getting back on
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Steve Almond’s most recent essay collection is titled Not that You Asked: Rants, Exploits, and Obsessions (Random House). He lives outside Boston, Massachusetts, with his wife and their daughter, Josephine, who recently started walking and shows no signs of ever stopping.
This is the story of my descent into a modern sort of inferno, so I’m going to start the way Dante did back in the day. As our saga opens, I’m pushing forty, about halfway through my life’s journey. I’m not lost in a dark wood; I’m in Oregon, schlepping my suitcase through the Portland airport, where travelers are granted the foolish pleasure of free Internet access.
The Sun doesn’t usually report on current events, but September’s terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. marked a turning point for all of us. We put out a call to our writers, inviting them to reflect on the tragedy and its aftermath. The response was overwhelming. As word got around, we received submissions not only from regular contributors but from writers who are new to The Sun’s pages.
Koscinski brings another excuse today. Always, he brings an excuse. This morning he tells his teacher Lazlow that the dog ate his hearing aid.
I suppose it might make sense at this point in my life — with a wife and a son and long afternoons of contentment drawn around me — to disavow my passion for Solange. Or, at the very least, to relinquish her memory. But you don’t relinquish anything when you’ve fallen in love, no matter how briefly. The heart writes in indelible ink.
When Sligo and I got there, Mr. Albert was out in front of his place, painting the trim on an antique cash register. He drew characters, too: yellow giraffes spotted with orange, motorized cows, and chariots with little black boys drawn along by giant brown horses. He painted everything eventually, using high-gloss exterior latex from little cans. His work was lousy with redemption. You couldn’t look at it for very long without wanting to forgive someone.