It’s summer, August maybe, and our family’s boxy purple Peugeot is parked at a rest stop gas station. My father pumps gas in his leather sandals. My 13-year-old sister, Rachel, slumps in the backseat, listening to her Walkman with her hood up over her ears. My mother, in a billowy fuchsia sundress, stands next to the passenger’s side of the car with the door open, one sandaled foot propped up on the runner, one palm resting on the top of the car, waiting. Her gray hair is cut very short. Her oval glasses take over much of her face.
I’m five, and have gotten out of the car to dance around on the cement for a few minutes, my white Tretorns, striped T-shirt, and shorts glistening in the sun. I skip over little puddles of oil between the cars, making a game out of not getting my feet wet.
There are several adults clustered around the pumps, filling their cars. I hop over to one of them, look up and say, “My Mommy had babies that died.” Then over to another: “My Mommy had babies that died.”
My mother did, indeed, have babies that died; so did my father, of course. I guess my sister did, too — baby-siblings. But these babies — a boy, a stillbirth at 23 weeks, and a girl a year later, at 24 weeks, both big enough to swell my mother’s belly but small enough to fit in the palm of my father’s hand — died seven and eight years earlier, respectively. I came next; I was the one who made it.
Read more at Modern Loss.
Happy Spring, all! I’m delighted to share three new pieces.
I wrote about my inability to make decisions on my own for Lenny.
I wrote about how much I love my own Mama for Mother’s Day for Land’s End Journal.
And! I wrote about getting up at the crack of dawn to have some time for myself (for crying out loud!). (It will shock no one to learn that since I published this, my kid’s been waking up much earlier. #Momfail.) This one was for Healthline.
I had the delightful experience of talking with the folks over at the new podcast, Restoration Row, about chronic pain, identity, mental health, and recovery. How does pain change us? And is that okay?
(Yes, yes, it is.)
Click over here to listen to the podcast. (Interview begins around 14:00.) To hear my Lenny Letter piece read aloud (beautifully–that accent!), don’t skip ahead!
Happy Friday! I’m delighted to be in Lenny today, with the story of how I healed from chronic back pain. If you want to go back and read Part 1 of the story on Longreads — all about my dance career — click here.
I’d love to hear all about your woes of pain and (hopefully) recovery.
We converged on New York City from every corner of the globe: from college dance departments in Ohio and Michigan and Minnesota, and conservatories in Florida and California and North Carolina; from Athens and Stockholm and Tel Aviv, and tiny towns in Brazil and Ecuador and Italy, all of us sweeping into Manhattan, that sliver of an island, from the outer boroughs for morning class. In our bags: cut-off sweatpants and bottles of water, tape to bandage split and bleeding toes, matches to soften the tape, apples and bags of tamari almonds from the Park Slope Food Coop, sports bras and tubes of mascara, gum, cigarettes, wallets full of cash from late nights working in bars and restaurants, paperbacks and copies of New York Magazine, and iPods for long subway rides. The bags weighed 10, 15 pounds.
My piece about dance, injury, chronic pain and identity is up on Longreads! Click here to read on.
I wrote this for her. (You can read more letters here, too.)
An adorable photo of the baby’s butt My new essay about the (rather difficult) first year of motherhood made it into my beloved Brain, Child Magazine. I’ve loved this smart publication ever since I read Cheryl Strayed’s lovely piece about trying to finish her book, Torch, after her son’s birth. (Now that I have not finished my book, I am in even more awe that she managed to do it.)
I kind of hoped that they’d print the above photo along with the piece, but they couldn’t because look at
how greasy my hair looks that weird Austrian dude photobombing us. (The babe was about two weeks old in that shot; I’m not kissing a lump of fabric.) Click here to read the new piece and see the baby’s aforementioned strawberry backside. It is really the sweetest thing. (As of this writing, it has an astonishing 1,000+ likes on Facebook. Clearly my mother has liked it many, many times I am not the only one who found this year hard!)
PS: If you’d like to read my last essay about motherhood — on the myth of the instant family, on The Toast — click here!