To B.C. and D.D.
I met Mary Patelli when I was five. Our mothers were ICU nurses together, both divorced, both in co-dependency meetings. Our families lived around the corner from each other in the suburbs of Baltimore. I saw her nearly every day; we vacationed together in the summer. We shared mothers.
Writer Muffy Fenwick discovers summer camp is a learning experience for moms, too.
My little boy suffers from “frequent and debilitating” migraine headaches. These are the words I choose for the countless forms I complete for his school, his sports teams, his camps. They started when he was barely two years old. We were at a family dinner and I watched as his chubby, freckled face drained of color and his usually twinkling blue eyes became vacant. I carried his listless body to the car and tried to coax him as he stared blankly out the window, barely responsive to the passing trees and darting cars. I slept on his floor that night, scared by his unresponsiveness. At some point in the night, he became restless and whiny, finally vomiting all over his crumpled airplane sheets. He then plunged into a deep, immovable sleep.
“A riot is the language of the unheard.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
From my bedroom in my big house at the top of a hill, I can hear many things: the rush of the highway like a river, concerts at the racetrack down the hill, the marching band and cheers at high school football games. Bird song in spring, insect orchestra in autumn.
And this spring, sirens. Sirens that seemed to go on and on through the day and the night.
University of Baltimore MFA student Tracy Gold considers the recent riots in light of her comfortable Towson upbringing.
I’m white, and I live in a neighborhood of yuppies near the water in Baltimore City. So, I can’t speak to what it’s like for the folks affected by police brutality.
But I can speak to what it’s like to deal with police when you’re a stupid, white teenager. I believe these kinds of stories are important to tell right now; they highlight how unfair our current system is. Sure, life’s not fair. But criminal justice should be.
Writer Ann Schlott Hillers shares the experience that led to a lifelong quest to seek adventure abroad.
My father grew up in Athens, Ohio with no indoor plumbing until he was six. At 21 he hitchhiked east to Baltimore for a med school interview at Johns Hopkins University. It was the first time he had ever left Trumball County, which was next door to Howland County, my mother’s birthplace. He was accepted into med school, and when he graduated, the hospital offered him a job. He worked at Johns Hopkins for more than 50 years and has lived on the same Baltimore street just as long.
When a college kid gets stuck on the wrong airport shuttle van, writer Janet Fricke Gilbert’s inner mom surges forth.
He wore his baseball cap backwards, and he kept his earbuds in while he shouted up to the driver. He might have even yelled “Hey, you! Driver!” which sounded rude, but was really a reflection of his panic at discovering he was on the airport shuttle heading deeper into the landscape of “The Wire” instead of Washington, D.C., where he was a student at American University.
Writer Gary Vikan–director of the Walters Art Museum from 1994-2013–reflects on his quick trip to Woodstock, a glorified study break during grad school, and what happened on the stormy way home.
“Wanna score a lid – $25?” Elana and I were in a small, old-fashioned grocery store attached to a gas station, on a rural highway in southern New York State. It was late morning, Sunday, August 18th, 1969. It was sunny and mild. We had stopped to gas up my 1968 red VW Beetle – the one that had yellow and lavender teardrop-shaped psychedelic decals in its rear windows, until a heavy-handed “pig” made me peel them off, claiming that they somehow blocked my view of the road. That VW was our understated hippy-mobile, and Elana and I were its understated hippies, on our way that morning to Woodstock. We had bought tickets just for Sunday, the last day of the festival, because Friday and Saturday, even in the dog days of August, were study days for grad-grind PhDs-in-the-making like us. The tickets, which I still have, were $7 each. That entrepreneurial hippy was offering us weed at what I knew was an inflated price because, I assumed, he had figured out we were Woodstock bound, and he guessed that we may not have planned ahead. A clue to our destination was the God’s eye, woven out of multi-colored yarn around two matchsticks, which Elana was wearing around her neck. She had picked it up the previous September somewhere between Big Sur State Park and the Esalen Institute, on California Interstate #1. We were hitchhiking, on our way to be part of the fifth annual Big Sur Folk Festival at Esalen. A small band of potheads in a VW van had picked us up; they were busily churning out God’s eyes in the intervals between stopping, in their paranoid delirium, once again to check out that odd knocking sound under the hood – a noise they heard but we could not.
The brown paper bag.
A few days after my Uncle Steve died, my dad brought home a brown paper bag from the apartment where single, childless Steve had lived for 17 years. It was soggy and heavy with coins. He dropped the bag on the coffee table mumbling “your inheritance.” My cousins, siblings, and I paid it no attention until the conclusion of whatever television show we were watching, and then my brother, Andy, peeked inside and wondered how many dollar bills those pennies would add up to—pennies could add up to anything. He drove to the Weis with the coin machine in Damascus and I came along. They added up to $38.00, $3.80 per niece and nephew.
Baltimore native Ann Schlott Hillers spends the summer in Bali with her three young sons and, despite fears, embraces the underwater world of the Indonesian Sea.
When I was in my twenties and childless, I dreamed a lot about drowning. Not my own drowning, but that of my niece, Maggie, my older sister’s eldest daughter. First, she scaled a tall Victorian hotel whose roof was covered in ice. As she reached the peak, I scrambled up the roof only to arrive as she was sliding down the other side, falling a mile into a lake of ice below. I tried to grab her dress, but she was slippery and fast. And gone.