This past February, I hired a cab for a pandemic-fatigued trip with a friend to the Himalayan hills in Himachal Pradesh, down the Old Manali road. It was a drowsy afternoon, the summer heat landing thick on the windows. My friend and I drifted in and out of sleep as our driver wound along circuitous roads. Listening to old Hindi songs, I started counting the Semal trees on the roadside, perched on the hills. Also called silk cotton trees, they blossom at the end of winter: leafless trees holding vibrant clutches of big red flowers.
It’s Friday morning. As has been his custom for almost three decades, Miguel Natividad Borrayo is dressed in white, from his T-shirt to his shoes, to honor those imprisoned for challenging the Castro regime—men like him, who spent seventeen years doing hard labor.
“White symbolizes peace,” says Miguel. “It’s how I protest.” But there was nothing peaceful about what got him in trouble to begin with. Back in 1961, he was a thirty-two-year-old career officer in the Cuban Navy. He’d been a staunch supporter of US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista until Fidel Castro’s successful guerrilla uprising in 1959.
Tiffany—“like Tiffany & Co.”—has lived here her whole life. Her hair is woven into a neat French twist. “Cops come and sit in here,” she says, waving her hand at the shadows on the small plaza around us. A white plastic bag rustles in a spring tree. Tufts of white flowers cover the branches like a sweater, against the chill of early evening. We raise our voices over the noise of a generator, one of a score of rumbling machines across the city that has flooded housing projects with chemical light, noise, and the guise of safety for five years.
Tiffany needs to fix dinner; her kids are hungry. Her forty-first birthday is coming up. Tomorrow she’s going to a pole-dancing class with friends. “You look good,” I say. She tosses a hello to a passing neighbor who’s pushing an overflowing grocery cart. Her gold hoop earrings sparkle.
My grandmother Mary died last November at ninety-three, after six months of at-home hospice. It was on a Tuesday. By Thursday, my mother and I were in Philadelphia getting out the vote for Hillary Clinton. Mom was exhausted after a ye [...]
1.Without their torches and semiautomatics, the alt-righters appeared aesthetically adrift. They had their gloves and flak jackets but, lacking the accessories wielded in Charlottesville, their domineering image suffered. Perhaps this is why they hud [...]
Connor’s only two, but he’s big for his age. Healthy. Bumping and charging around Dr. Katie’s examination room like it’s play time. Terrific two. And he is healthy, except that he needs a new liver. Sooner rather than later. His blood t [...]