Glow: A Luminous Photograph with a Story to Tell

It’s a photograph no one else but me could have taken.

My mother didn’t take it, that’s for sure. She was great in front of the camera, her rightful place, and pretended — feminine wiles, how quaint — not to understand how to depress the shutter button on a point-and-shoot. My ex-husband was a distracted photographer with an artsy eye that didn’t translate to family photos. Twenty-five years later, no, Philip, I don’t remember whose earlobe that is.

But Philip didn’t take it.

I’ll describe the image. My daughter, Sophia, is three. Her hair is summer blonde and flows. She is wearing a yellow dress that is now packed in a bin marked “Girls,” in the basement of my building. My father, Tom, is 67. He is tanned and grey and rugged, with a big dad head, square and block-sturdy, the kind of dad head you don’t see much anymore, who knows why, something to do with the internet? Craniums diminish to accommodate next level evolution? I don’t know. Anyway, my father with his big dad head reminds me — in the best way, it’s high praise — of Carl the Rottweiler in Good Dog, Carl, a book I presented like prayer at bedtime to my girls when they were little.


How Many Times Am I Touched in a Week? A Study

I read an article about how couplehood and the attendant touching, not necessarily sexy, increases good health and longevity. I’m single and on the dark side of 60. I’m fine living alone, it’s fine, but when Trump got elected, for example, I had no one to gather me up and curl around me to protect me from everything incoming, nukes included. In a less grim example, I’m on a regular schedule of imaging tests for cancer, and I have friends, I have daughters, but reaching out every three months to express my scanxiety and beg for hugs seems overly needy. If I had a partner, in my case, a man, in the next room, I could complain at moments of peak terror and get held and hold on. Maybe live longer in better health. After reading the article, I wanted to know how much human touch I was receiving over the course of a week. Like, data-gathering.


Fortunate Friends: A Leap Across the Wealth Gap and Into a New Home

A friend as your mortgage holder? It seemed like one of those things you should never, ever do.

Let me tell you about my coat. It is a distinctive color, somewhere between lilac and lavender and gray. The cashmere is so light and soft it feels like a kitten, and other women stroke it instinctively. It is chic in a Paris-boutique-whose-name-I-forget way, my coat, with a hood, and toggle closures and French seams. I wear it only when conditions are perfect: clear skies, temperature ranging from forty-eight to sixty degrees.

I’m frequently asked where I got it, and sometimes I say, “Paris,” because that’s what the label says, but I shouldn’t really say “Paris,” because the coat is a hand-me-down, from the back of a friend’s closet. It’s a garment I could never afford to buy.

It’s not the only expensive gift my friend has given me. I did her a favor once and got a pricey handbag as thanks. She planned a wedding for me in her home, which got cancelled—another story, another time—and she sent me all the champagne she’d ordered, with a shrug. When, over the course of a couple of years, I had ticked off six or seven of the top life stressors on the Holmes and Rahe Scale and was in a terribly low place, this friend handed me a check big enough to pay off urgent medical bills and move my family from the beloved house I could no longer afford to a more manageable apartment.