The day after I found out I was donor-conceived, I spent the afternoon walking through the streets of midtown Manhattan, wondering if anyone I passed by could be a relative. The information I had about the anonymous sperm donor my parents used was minimal: He was Jewish and had been in medical school in the ’80s. As I strolled by hordes of Jewish-looking middle-aged men, with the same brown eyes and brown hair my genes expressed, the unlikelihood of ever meeting my biological father weighed on me.
I was proud of myself for being realistic. It was borderline laughable, contemplating…
In bed we laugh, in bed we cry;
And, born in bed, in bed we die.
The near approach a bed may show
Of human bliss to human woe.
—Isaac de Benserade
When I was little, I was so afraid of the dark that I begged my sister to let me sleep on her floor. I didn’t care that it was a hard surface, as long as I wasn’t alone.
Now I’m not afraid of the dark, but I’m very picky about my mattresses. Oh, how we grow and change and choose different things to fear.
“One little blanky for…
I lay out ingredients. Not five minutes before, as I start to cook. Like normal people. I take them out an hour in advance. Set them on the counter. Unmeasured, unchopped. Mental meal prep.
I am 10 minutes late. Always optimistic that I can get my shit together fast. A quick shower and change. Never do my hair. Foundation. Eyeshadow. Mascara. Out the door. In control.
I make lists. Of things to buy at the market. Series to watch. Countries I’ve been to. Men I’ve slept with. Names for my unborn children. Carry them with me. Delete them when no…
Everything is closed. Schools are closed. Stores are closed. Parks are closed. Museums are closed. But you know what’s easy to keep open for you and your kids? Your eyes.
Let me show you an easy way to open things up. But I want you to wait until your kids have gone to bed. I know you’ll be exhausted. (We’re all exhausted!) But this will be relaxing; this will be fun. No one is keeping score.
All you need is a pencil and a piece of paper. First, freehand a square in the center of the page. Small or big…
My father was a bad person.
There are plenty of ways to sugarcoat it, or use lots of needless words to make it sound a little less harsh. But that would mean burying the truth under a bunch of excuses and cover stories — and people like me, who have survived the things I have, already spent way too much of our lives doing that.
He may be deceased, but he gets the legacy he created.
I see no need to be gentle to someone who was always so cruel to me.
My father’s character (or lack thereof) isn’t a…
My mother had a complicated relationship with relaxation. She yearned for it, but didn’t really have the constitution.
I remember walking into her dark bedroom, aged seven or eight, to a screech from the dim far side of the bed: “Fuck off! I’m meditating!”
I didn’t really know what meditating was but I figured pretty quickly it wasn’t to be disturbed. And I’d blown it. As a child I filed the exchange in the deep internal folder marked: “Oh my god, I’ve upset my mother. Is it bad? I think it’s bad.”
I’ve revisited that moment over the years. Giggled…
There’s a reason the phrase “adult child of divorce” exists. It’s an odd pairing of words, “adult” and “child,” but as one, I can say they are more accurate than I would like to believe. My parents divorced when I was 20 years old. Perhaps “young adult” is better suited to describe me, but a child of divorce I am nonetheless. At 20, maybe you would think I’d read the signs, seen it coming, known my parents’ marriage was failing. I was not that kind of kid.
My mom lovingly described me as someone who preferred her “rose-colored…
“That’s right, Shannon. I’m H-I-fucking-V positive.”
I already knew. Or, I think I already knew. I wasn’t entirely sure what I knew except that he was sick, very sick.
It was freezing outside and my teeth had been clattering long before he told me. After he finished, I allowed a timid “oh” to lightly clear my throat and watched as the cold air billowed from my mouth. We sat in rocking chairs. The light from the porch lamp emitted only enough glow to see half of his sharp features in the pitch black night. …