Sweet Mornings

The babies and their parents come on Saturday mornings to my library. Only one of the children is walking yet — a petite girl, so diminutive a not-yet-crawling baby is larger than her.

The parents are cheerful and chat about sleepless nights and cloth diapers, while drinking my too-strong coffee and stretching out on the library rug in the January sunlight.

The babies are so beautiful, so pearly fresh from the womb, they might seem almost not of this world, save for their milky breath and hungry cries, their tiny smiles radiating such pure joy.

My daughters are long beyond the nursing years, at 12 and nearly 19, and so I’m a piece of these young mothers and fathers, having lived through the eternity of sleepless nights parents slog through, bleary-eyed, running on caffeine and hopefully laughter.

My teenager cooks dinner with her friend and sister, then sprawls on the couch with her laptop, plotting an escape somewhere else, but not for too long, her cap stitched with Fuck. beside her knee, where a sleeping cat’s paws half-cover that word. Proof enough the world changes.

I happen to believe that America is dying of loneliness, that we, as a people, have bought into the false dream of convenience, and turned away from a deep engagement with our internal lives—those fountains of inconvenient feeling—and toward the frantic enticements of what our friends in the Greed Business call the Free Market. We’re hurtling through time and space and information faster and faster, seeking that network connection. But at the same time we’re falling away from our families and our neighbors and ourselves.

— Cheryl Strayed

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Morrisville, Vermont

By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.

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