Smoking in the girls’ room, sneaking a drink, napping
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We lived in an old, two-story Arts and Crafts house with an elevator, which was permanently stuck on the second floor. We used it as a storage closet, and it was my favorite place in the whole house. Now I went into the elevator and shut the gate and sat in one of the antique ladder-back chairs that my father had put in there, and I looked over the Chopin piece in my piano book and tried to visualize my future.
The summer after my father attempted suicide, I found myself wandering through a graveyard near my house, up and down the rows of sunken headstones and faded pink cloth roses. I didn’t know a soul buried there, and I didn’t know what solace I expected to find.
Cross-dressing, a lifelong eating disorder, the dazzling white image of life
My ex-husband is dying. A year and a half ago he was on the telephone with someone, and suddenly words vanished from his brain. English became a language he’d once known but had forgotten. The memory of those things called “words” was still there, but they were lumpy, pale, and almost unrecognizable, like dust-sheeted furniture in a mansion’s unused rooms.
One day my mother was at the hairdresser’s, sitting under the dryer with an array of tinfoil antennae in her hair and a magazine open in her lap, when she noticed that the woman under the next dryer was staring at her. The woman whispered tentatively, “Are you Mrs. Davis?”
When I walk into my backyard, I hear my neighbor in her garden and smell the smoke from her cigarette. I stay close to my house, where I’m hidden from view by the overgrown laurel hedge. I was intending to weed my own garden, near the low wire fence where our dogs poke their noses at each other and over which my neighbor and I used to talk about flowers. But I don’t want to risk exposing myself.
Spending the entire night together, being very brave, stitching yourself to reality
A friend at her father’s funeral had warned her, “When grief comes, ride it like a wave, like a childbirth contraction, even though it might feel like it’s pulling you down to the bottom. If you don’t, you’ll pay the price later. And don’t expect anyone to do it for you.”