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Nostalgia

Illustration by Anders Nilsen

Learning

It’s hard to know which of us began to wear our shoes in the apartment, but one of us did—one of us, then the other. First it was just in the kitchen, but soon there were tracks in the bedroom, bathroom, living room, everywhere. Old receipts and leaves crept in. The floor grew filthy. We got out-of-season colds. Ellen let clumps of her hair tumbleweed around, clogging the carpet, the drains, and I was no longer careful with the dishes, dropping plates and glasses so often we learned not to flinch at the smash, and though we still recycled, we did so poorly, never rinsing, never sorting, curbing them on the wrong night. We both knew the baking soda had been in the freezer a very long time, many years, a lifetime, but neither of us made a move to dispose of or replace it.

Illustration by Jen Renninger

Kodak Moments

The summer I turned twenty-six, I stopped taking pictures. This wasn’t just out of character—this was abnegation of character, so foundational was my belief in a photographic clenched fist around the past. I have always been a writer, but I’ve never been a competent diarist; until that summer, I had measured out my life with photo sleeves.

Place Like Home

I was asked to show up with a side dish. I made
A slaw of my longing. I had to keep it crisp. Nothing goes

Bad in a backyard, if you catch my drift. In a
Backyard everything is available like a catalog

Fireback

In 1979, when I was for two years an instructor at the University of New Hampshire, I had a student—a bright, anxious, but always attentive student—named Charles Fortunesky. He was taller than most of the others, and seemed to enjoy a comic sense of himself as gawky and slightly ridiculous. He wore his baseball cap backwards—a style that only became fashionable years after he performed his turn-around—and once, during my office hours, he put a Swiss Army knife on my desk and pantomimed a strange routine in which he pretended to click out a blade and, say, a nailfile; he then imitated, with his body, their arrangement.