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The Sun Magazine

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

House Proud

I first noticed the house early one spring afternoon as I was driving through Capaha Park in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where I’d taken a job teaching English at Southeast Missouri State. I was new in town and unfamiliar with the neighborhoods west of campus. Lost, I happened to drive by the house at the very moment a woman came out a side door, stood on the stoop, and began shaking a rug. I thought, That house needs a privacy fence.

All My Things Considered

In September 2002, I made the decision to move from California to Australia to live with my partner, and by December I was flying to Melbourne. In just two months, I packed up or got rid of all my material possessions.

The Morel Of The Story

The year I moved to Montana, a man shot another man for picking huckleberries in “his” huckleberry patch. He claimed he thought the picker was a grizzly bear. I didn’t know which to fear more: grizzlies or men with guns. A city girl, I was used to people getting shot — just not over huckleberries.


Where You Could End Up

I’ve been staying with my friend Jackson, and I’m wearing his large red flannel jacket with the blue padding inside. I hope he lets me keep it. It’s a comfortable jacket, and I’d freeze otherwise. The wind is blowing. In Chicago in the winter, the wind chill is the only measurement that matters. I wish Maria would get here before the cold sinks into me permanently.

Readers Write

Small Towns

Growing up in Brooklyn, I thought all the eccentrics lived in big cities. Then I became editor of a tiny newspaper in a drab Louisiana town where every breath stank of sulfur from the local paper mill. The police chief’s brother, a sergeant on the force, was caught stealing antidrug funds. The sour-faced editor I’d replaced had baked treats for local officials in exchange for information. (The first time I asked the sheriff for the crime reports, he replied, “Where are my cookies?”) The town manager spit tobacco juice on my office carpet. Even the tragedies were bizarre: at a local funeral parlor, one minister killed another and severed his victim’s head.

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸
Sy Safransky's Notebook

February 2004

My watch stopped working. Just like that. No warning. No letter advising me that time was about to stand still. I took it as a sign, or what Carlos Castaneda called a “gesture.” The universe gestures to us all the time, he said, and if we learn how to read those gestures, we become, in a way, more literate, more able to follow the signs that really matter. Since it was an inexpensive watch and not worth fixing, I’ve hung it on the wall next to my calendar: a reminder that it’s unwise to take refuge in all those tidy little squares, lined up like soldiers ready to do my bidding; that, for each of us, “next week” is merely a hypothesis.

Musings From Our Founder ▸


Man made the city, God made the country, but the devil made the small town.

The Reverend Vernon G. McGee

More Quotations ▸
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