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Location: California

I love paper. Books printed on acid-free paper and bound in cloth turn me on. I'm crazy about bookmarks, and I buy too many stickers. I could spend hours in the build-your-own-greeting card section of my neighborhood craft store. My favorite thing to eat is bread, and my second favorite is fruit. (Mm, pineapple.) I read too much and too fast, and I watch too many food shows (two ways of looking at gluttony). Gloomy, rainy weather calms me and so I can't wait to move out of California, which will happen, sadly, too many years from now to count. I'm vegan, though I haven't managed to eliminate honey from my diet yet. I practice yoga; it's the only way I can keep fit. I have a better life than I ever imagined I would (or deserve to) have, but I do my best to enjoy it rather than feel guilty about it. That's my daily struggle -- and also to be thoughtful and observant and honest with myself.

Monday, June 19, 2006


Yesterday at eleven twenty-three in the morning my little nephew was born. He weighs a little over seven pounds and is twenty inches long. I took out my ruler and spread my hands twenty inches wide. I took out a five-pound bag of flour from my pantry and held it for a bit. It seemed very light, too light to be just a little below the weight of a newborn, of a whole human being. My brother- and sister-in-law will be taking the baby home from the hospital later today. They'll carry that tiny creature in their arms and rock him and look at him as he sleeps in his crib, knowing every moment that they are completely and forever responsible for him.

Despite baby pictures, despite the same handful of stories about my childhood that my mother never tires of telling, it's hard for me to believe that I was as tiny one September day many years ago as my little nephew is now. It's hard for me to believe that my parents looked at me with fear and awe and a kind of love that my mother insists you can know nothing about until you experience it firsthand. I looked very attentively at my father's face yesterday as we were having lunch together to celebrate Father's Day, and tried to puzzle out what he was feeling, what he thought about, when he looked at my sister and me, if he was happy or disappointed or maybe felt a little removed from us -- forced, by the fact that we've grown up and left home, to think of himself as a man alone again, with responsibilities only towards himself.

I couldn't read his face; I was never really able to. But I realized today as I thought about what my father meant to me and about the difficulties I have in relating to him now that I'm an adult and married, that what I want more than anything is to thank him. I don't want to dwell on the ways we've hurt each other. I just want to say: thank you for all you've done. If he had done nothing else except nurture my love of reading it would have been enough. And he's done so much more than that. I wasn't fully aware of how much because to him silence, and letting what he does speak for him, is very important. For me, on the other hand, words are as important as deeds. That is where a lot of our misunderstandings sprang from: his silences spoke to me in a very different way than he intended.

Except for our passion for books, we are very unlike one another. But I feel very lucky that I have learned, much more than I have suffered, from our conflicts. I must give my father credit for the things I learned; he has always, always made a serious, earnest effort to give me mental and spiritual space to grow up in. Perhaps he judged me, but he did it silently. I can see what a great gift to me this silence has been. It has pained me many times, but the pain was of the growing, becoming a better person kind.


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