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Human Parts
A publication from Medium about humanity: yours, mine, and ours.

Travel

In Human Parts. More on Medium.

A daughter reflects on wanderlust, travel, and her mother’s life before triplets

Text by: Brooke Mazurek
Photography and collage by: Paige Mazurek

When my mother found out she was pregnant with triplets, she quit her job and let her passport expire. She was elated and scared, nauseated and starving — and by her second trimester, under strict orders to stay in bed.

For the next four months while she lay on her left side, my mother’s belly swelled, stretching in such a way that it required scaffolding — a harness doctors custom-designed to support the weight of us all. From the back, she looked narrow. From the front, enormous. …


This Is Us

An ode to the meditative power of train travel

Snowy Amtrak platform.
Photo: Dipanjan Chatterjee/Unsplash

After one horrific Megabus experience in 2012, I began taking the Amtrak everywhere instead. What’s better than staring longingly out of a train window, Sufjan in your earbuds, a vast landscape stretched before you? It never mattered where I was going, Lollapalooza 2015 or a wholesome coastal town — I was A Mysterious Traveler with Grand Intentions. I was on a journey to Find Myself and Get Into Mischief along the way! (Of course, this was the BC, Before Covid, times.)

Back then, there was always that specific vibe of taking the train. Perhaps it has something to do with…


This Is Us

How a pre-pandemic whale swim brought me eye to eye with a humpback — and my own mortality

Photos courtesy of the author.

The whales are playing hard to get. It’s a sunny day off the coast of Vava’u island group, and my father, sister, and I have set off in search of humpbacks. The Tongan archipelago is known for a migrating population of over 2,000 whales who calve and mate in its subtropical waters during the winter — after gorging in the krill-rich Antarctic all summer. We scan the cobalt blue swells for everything from blowhole plumage to full-body breaching. …


Past Is Prologue

Love is strange

Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California, September 11, 2020. Photo: Sela Shiloni

I fell in love with a guy from New England before I knew anything about him, except his art. This is a dangerous practice, as anyone who has spent time with an artist of any sort can surely tell you.

I should know better. I do know better. But I swear this time it’s different.

I found out everything I could about him through the usual channels — not obsessively, mind you, nothing creepy. I made certain inquiries. I’m like that when I’m interested in somebody, as a friend or otherwise. I want to know where they came from so…


Lived Through This

First lesson: A house is not a home

Photos courtesy of the author.

When I was a senior in college, we went to Mexico. I remember the flight being turbulent, and that was the start of my lifelong fear of planes. I wondered if we’d plunge into the ocean and what that would feel like — metal breaking the surface, a body tearing its way down to the ocean floor. But I secreted my thoughts away, as I tended to do back then, because we were up in the air, drunk on cheap vodka and a future filled with possibility. …


This Is Us

Seriously.

Photo courtesy of the author.

California is America, only more so. That’s its burden and its gift. It’s so big and tiny, crowded and empty, foggy and smoky yet bright and shining, and it shakes. If you drive the whole length of the thing, 770 miles from top to bottom, you’re going to need some great driving music. If you’re cool, you’ll blast a playlist of all the newer stuff that I never know about until it’s not hip anymore.

I do get to it, though. I’m a late bloomer and I travel slow, but I catch up eventually.

Recently, I asked some savvy friends…


This Is Us

I’m the only hafu in the onsen, and I get to decide what that means

A photo of the exterior of a Japanese onsen.
Photo: Alessio Ferretti/Unsplash

Hadaka no tsukiai is a Japanese saying that roughly translates to “naked friendship.” It describes the bonding that occurs whilst bathing with another in an onsen, or Japanese hot spring. In this communal setting where members of the same sex are all vulnerably naked, the public selves that we project in our daily lives are meant to melt away. In hot water and sheets of steam, we can finally talk freely. Or so the saying goes.

Since I started living in Japan, the onsen has become one of the spaces in which I feel most free. In class, I reconcile…


Planet Soul

The divine lives inside of us all. We just have to look for it.

A photo taken from afar of a runner going down a path with lush trees and green.
Photo: Les routes sans fin(s)/Unsplash

Ever since I learned of the existence of a female form of God, I’ve dreamed of taking a pilgrimage to places where evidence of her had been found.

I imagined what it might feel like to stand in the presence of the 35,000-year-old Woman of Willendorf or to roam the land in the Dordogne region of France where the 25,000-year-old carving of the Venus of Laussel was discovered. Both of these, along with hundreds of other Paleolithic-era figurines, were found in areas spanning from southwestern France all the way to Siberia.

Virtually every figurine that’s been found from this time…


Fiction

On travel, and how it changes us

Photo: Gueorgui Tcherednitchenko

Before she left again, Min said the world had changed. It was not something she could see or explain easily, and yet she was sure something was different. When I asked, she said it was like opening a book she had read a long time ago and realizing the story was not as she remembered it.

“The words are the same as they always were,” Min said, “but now there is new meaning in them, and I can no longer see them any other way.”

I thought of the books I’d read with this concept at their heart — where…


This Is Us

Notes on traveling, estrangement, and the keychains I bought for my father

A picture of keychains hanging on rows of rope.
Photo: Matth/Adobe Stock

In the winter of 2014, my father and I are finally in a cab traveling to the center of Dublin, my pop’s birthplace, his home. While he looks out the window and takes inventory of what has changed, the taxi driver asks where he’s from. My pop’s accent is faint; no longer the thick brogue of his youth spent carousing in pubs and drinking pints, it’s been thickened by a country of coffee and wants. My pop says, with pride, “I’m from right here. Dublin.”

Our trip was planned after months of persistent badgering (“Show me your home, your parents’…

Human Parts

A publication from Medium about humanity: yours, mine, and ours.

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