The Skirt

Dear N_____,

This letter is a little late in coming—close to fifty years isa sizable chunk of time—but I wanted to tell you that you can stop searching for that lovely brown linen skirt you left behind after a week’s visit with me when we were young girls on the brink of life. I hope that you have not spent too many of the decades between that summer and this one riffling through closets, calling various hotels, reaching out to friends to whom you might have lent it.  If you have, then stop.  No good will come of it, certainly no skirt.  I have never told anyone, but I kept that skirt of yours. 

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Sky Burial

At first, I thought I’d killed you. The Friday before, you texted to tell me that you were going to drown yourself in the Monongahela River. It was late Spring. You were drinking again. 

“Go to the ER,” I told you. “Please don’t give up.” But, I didn’t offer to sit with you or hold your hand till the pain stopped. Instead, I just imagined you wandering along the trail by the river’s edge, staring into the murky rush. 

“I’m okay,” you texted finally, three hours later. 

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A Month After Mother's Day

Dear Mom,

As you know, I’ve been wearing glasses since kindergarten and even though Dad is always trying to get me to take them off for picture taking, you’ll see that I’ve managed to keep them on in almost every photo. In my developmental years my glasses were a part of my identity. I was that girl with the ponytail and glasses. I revelled in being identifiable as if my glasses gave me a reputation.

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Remembering Mom

I am the keeper of the dreams and the memories, the matrix where the generations converge, the record-book held between familial bookends. I am responsible for passing her life on to him that she may continue to live and that he may understand the consequences of history and culture as people commonly do.

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The Individual

It’s Tuesday 23rd January 2001 and I don’t want to go to school. Today is a different day from the ones that have gone before. Every day since Saturday has been a different day from the ones that have gone before.

I get myself up, and dressed. I eat my breakfast on my own in the kitchen, which is like a waiting room. I delay deliberately so that I can get the later train. No one else from school will be on that train, and I won’t have to explain. 

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An Even Keel

I heard the words, but they had never really registered. “Remember, no sleep for two year!” my boss warned when I shared the news of my second pregnancy with him.

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Julia NusbaumComment
Don't

It’s a filthy place, the inside of his mind, but I’ve ruthlessly forced myself to wade through the sewage of his thoughts.

He followed me for a block, waiting until we were somewhere with less traffic.

I am cerebral person, I have to think about things, rationalize them, untangle them, for a long time after they happen. Even if it’s torture. Even if it’s pointless.

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The Unloveable Little Girl

I am not allowed to be angry. I don’t mean I’m not allowed to yell or break things or act out, though that is strictly forbidden as well, obviously. I mean I am not allowed to feel the emotion itself. It has no place in my being, no space it can comfortably take up. Instead, it squeezes into other homes, transforms into anxiety or rejection or, a personal favorite, self-loathing.

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Rage

Rage enveloped me in my mother’s womb. It bathed me in amniotic fluid that permeated my cells, and developed who I was about to become. The origin of this rage could have evolved from my mother’s life events.My mother from Japan, who immigrated to America a decade after WWII ended. Whose legs carried her as she and her family ran from their house after it was bombed and burned to the ground, barely making it out alive. Whose eyes witnessed the horrors of war, when her city of Osaka was burning.

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How My Surprise Miscarriage Taught Me My Greatest Strength

It was a Sunday in September and I was nursing one of the worst hangovers I’d had since college. Hours of restless sleep, lying completely still on my back in the dark, choking down stale crackers only to lose them again a few moments later; this became the day’s very unwelcome routine. The night before was the wedding of a good friend and I absolutely took advantage of the open bar.

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