The Pink Bedroom

My girlhood bedroom had pink ballerina wallpaper, six mirrors, six closets, and two windows overlooking the Mississippi River Valley.

One closet was devoted to dress-up clothes, and as it was positioned over our laundry basket, the dress up and dirty clothes often mixed and had a similar scent of wood and sweat.  A favorite, satiny dress we wore through until it was threadbare, and kept wearing with various sashes and pointy-toed high heels.

We taped the notices of our theater productions and our drawings on the walls.  We… Continue reading

Secret Summer Crush

I knew this girl once.  She still won’t tell you his name, but he was older, and cute, and he played volleyball at the resort when her family took the boat over every summer evening to play.  This guy, he teased her, and joked with her older brothers, and she had to pretend she wasn’t looking at him and listening to him all the time.  She had to serve the ball, knowing he was watching.  She got to watch him play.  Sometimes he was captain… Continue reading

The Age Timeline

When I was six, walking along the sunny sidewalk in front of the apartment building, I imagined age like a timeline of numbers where 6 was big and close at hand, 7 was ahead, slightly smaller, and the other years of age drifted ahead of me in black print against a murky beige background, growing smaller in the distance.  I could still see my age of 5 from my last birthday behind me, but it was shrinking, and 4 was smaller still.  My older brothers would always be… Continue reading

Telling Time

One of my worst memories of third grade was when Sr. Mary Frances asked me to go check what time it was for her.  A small clock was on the counter near the sink, so I went over to look, but I couldn’t read what the hands were telling me.  I didn’t yet know how to tell time.  Sister sent over my friend Leslie to help me, and Leslie knew right away what time it was.  She told me, I told the teacher, we went back… Continue reading

Q. When Did You Start Writing?

A.  Seventh grade.  Didn’t everything start in seventh grade?  I had no idea then which assignments might turn into habits or which habits would turn into life-long pursuits.  If you had asked me, I might have told you I loved playing violin and drawing more than writing. True, I woke up early to read books before school, but I also enjoyed being in the school’s musicals.  It was a big deal when our class had a roller skating party, and I proved a lot of… Continue reading

Playing Death at the Lake

The gutsiest thing I ever did at the lake nearly killed me.  The color of our family’s lake in Minnesota, where four generations of Geist-O’Brien-Walshes have happily cavorted for as many decades, is a deep, rich brown.  Rumor has it iron turns the water that color, while other theories lean toward peat, but whatever the reason, the result is unlike any lake color I’ve ever known elsewhere.   The water feels extra heavy in your palm, too, and it’s deceptively easy to float on.  It’s like… Continue reading