Mistaken identity

jjI know you won’t believe me when I tell you I was once mistaken for a movie star. Ridiculous of course, but I tell you, it happened.

I was seated at a diner somewhere near Bemidji, drinking coffee with—was it M? or an old boyfriend?—waiting for eggs and toast, when the waitress came to warm our coffee and said,

“I’m sorry to bother you, but—” and here she looked around shyly, “aren’t you Sandra Bullock?”

Continue reading

Prepare for takeoff

takeoffI don’t know when it was that I started having morbid thoughts each time I fly. They happened again last Friday morning, when in the moments before takeoff from Minneapolis I’d been having perfectly rational thoughts like which armrest was rightfully mine and whether I ought to claim it now, and whether the baby one row back was likely to cry for the whole ride or just for takeoff. But these thoughts scattered as the plane rounded the last curve and the runway yawned into view, when we straightened out and paused like a gymnast anticipating her mount and the engines roared to life and we started barreling down the runway and the only thought left was, Well, Jill, this is it.

Continue reading

Vacation time

folded clockI was still seated at my office desk yesterday at 5:05 p.m., the day before my vacation was to start, when my boss stepped into my office for the first time that day. By then I’d already shut down my computer. I was adding some files to an accordion folder before me, so I could throw it in my bike bag to take home. I’d be out of the office for over two weeks. I was pushing the limits of my vacation time and felt a little uncomfortable about it. I saw no choice but to take some work to finish from the road. Continue reading

You can’t take it with you

dhl photoIt was one year ago this July when C and I flew home from Berlin while M stayed on one last week with our two other daughters: playing a few recitals, saying a few more goodbyes, wrapping up our affairs. M walked through the apartment with the landlord one last time; he returned borrowed items to the neighbors: mattress, floor lamp, patio table and chairs. And he asked our friend Doris to drive him to the post office to ship home a few boxes, the odds and ends of our accumulations in Berlin.

I picture Doris pulling up in front of our yellow apartment building in her small hatchback, waving to M up on the balcony. I can see her climbing the red carpeted stairs up to our flat once, twice, to help him carry down the three heavy boxes he’d prepared to send—boxes packed with our family’s winter coats and boots, the handcut wooden puzzles we found in Paris, hiking boots, stuffed animals, and other random items too cumbersome to fit in the remaining suitcases.

There was one last box that wasn’t quite ready to be sealed up and put in the trunk of the car when Doris arrived. Continue reading