Just as a piece of matter detaches itself from the sun to live as a wholly new creation so I have come to feel about my detachment from America. Once the separation is made a new orbit is established, and there is no turning back. For me the sun had ceased to exist; I had myself become a blazing sun.
The Odyssey Of S. Brian Willson
I think of myself as a recovering white male, recovering from my early conditioning about how to be successful. The value system I was raised with dehumanized me to the point that I followed an order to travel nine thousand miles to participate in destroying another people. It’s incredible that I could do that, and without really thinking much about it. That’s why I wrote the book — to understand how it was so easy for me to do that.
In my family, as in many families, there is a moment we all remember but never speak about. It’s the moment in which my oldest brother went around the dining-room table and smashed every dinner plate, then tried to punch our father, who punched his firstborn son in the face.
Before I fell in love with my husband, I fell in love with his mother’s china. It was a frigid February night, my second date with my husband-to-be, who’d asked me to a concert in New York City, an hour’s drive from Princeton, where I was a seventeen-year-old freshwoman (as we called it in those days) and he was a sophomore.
Not everyone can afford to adopt a Central Park bench and personalize it with a plaque, but it costs nothing to sit on one. My favorite bench, near Conservatory Water, is inscribed with “Tell Me Something You Promised You Wouldn’t Tell” and dedicated to a woman named Helen, who lived for nearly a century.
January 10: My wife and I recently moved from suburban New Jersey back to the heart of New York’s Catskill Mountains: the town of Phoenicia. It’s difficult returning here in winter. Everyone we meet has a lost, distracted look, as if they’ve already watched their entire video collection twice and now spend their evenings staring up at the spot where two walls meet the ceiling.
I was eleven the summer the fire broke out. In the spring of 1967 my mother, my father, and I had moved to Umberland, Pennsylvania. An old miners’ neighborhood sprawled across the southern half of town, and its residents burned their garbage in a used-up strip mine, a pit of shale and sandstone scraped clean by bulldozers.
I am nineteen, standing behind the Coach / counter at Macy’s Herald Square. / This feels like my first real job: I take / a bus to the city; I wear a suit; / I ask strangers if I can help them, / even though I actually can’t help them, / since I know so little about leather goods.