My Father’s Things, and My Own

My father died nearly twenty-five years ago. Still, I can conjure that time as if it were yesterday: the bewildering, quiet ride to the hospital, with the ambulance lights flashing but no siren, early on Christmas Eve, 1995; his week of decline; his funeral procession, inching past the farm in a swirl of snow. Somewhere …

Continue reading

My House in Cairo

The weekend after I purchased a new Honda sedan, I hired a small construction crew. They arrived at my apartment, in Cairo, early on a Friday morning. The foreman told me that it was important to work quickly, because the police weren’t likely to be active before Friday prayers. With my wife, Leslie, and our …

Continue reading

The Three Chairs That Define Childhood

I. Wassily Chair, Marcel Breuer We lived in a clearing in the woods. Redwood, lots of windows—a house dreamt up by my father the architect. It wasn’t until adulthood that I saw how the house echoed the home of his childhood, situated on a lake in Dhaka, Bangladesh: a double-height living room overlooked by a …

Continue reading

Women’s Work

I gave birth to my children in China and India. My husband and I were foreign correspondents, and so our sons were born into expatriation—Americans growing up in Asian megacities on the cusp of the Asian century. It wasn’t my goal to have children overseas; it just happened that way. I got pregnant when I …

Continue reading

The “I Do” of Addiction

People might mean well, but, benign or not, when somebody asks, how’s your mama doing, my impulse is noneya. As in none of your business, which often construes to “she’s fine” or “doing well” or “good,” depending on who asked. But, to keep it 100, I ain’t sure. Let Mom tell it, she’s a single …

Continue reading

What “Peanuts” Taught Me About Queer Identity

We were watching a play about infidelity. It was 1984, and my girlfriend and I had been living together for a couple of years. We had descended the sixty-odd blocks to see Tom Stoppard’s “The Real Thing,” at the Plymouth Theatre. “He loves me,” Glenn Close said onstage. “He wants to punish me with his …

Continue reading