I started surfing only recently—just six years ago—but the sport had beckoned for a long time. A big part of surfing’s appeal was its beauty—the enviable, effortless-looking grace that skilled wave riders bring to their pursuit. But I was also drawn to the sport’s solitude. More
My friends all warned me about first-floor apartments. They told me nightmare stories about thundering footsteps and stereo noise from above, wailing babies, squeaky bedsprings. But as soon as I saw the street-level studio in Park Slope, I was a goner. The apartment, at the rear of a small, saggy building, had a tiny deck and a little fenced-in square of mud that the management-company rep called a garden.I could already see the beds of marigolds that I would plant, the morning glories that would wind up the fence posts and the neat little lawn I’d trim with my Kmart weed whacker.
Like many writing teachers, I am privy to secrets. I’ve read stories about lost love and illicit affairs, addiction, shame, family dysfunction of every stripe. I know the parting words one student’s father said to her before dying; I know how another’s wife reacted when he revealed his long-hidden homosexuality. These are such private stories that, without encouragement, they might never have made it onto the page. And like any teacher, I feel privileged to have helped bring them to life.
What’s hardest about middle age are the regrets. When you suddenly, alarmingly recognize that your life’s half over, what’s jarring isn’t just the realization that you’ll never have the chance to do everything you’ve planned. More
“Hey!” a high-pitched voice called down to me. I stopped raking and looked up: The owner of the voice was a boy, maybe five or six, who was sitting on the fire escape of the apartment two floors above mine. He was sucking on a bright blue Popsicle, his brown legs dangling through the railings.