I’m driving around Barre, Vermont, and can’t find the high school, so I pull into a garage. I glanced at a map before I left work, and figured, what the heck, a high school can’t be that difficult to find.

Two men are in the garage, and I ask for directions. They look at each other and don’t answer. I say I’m headed to my daughter’s track meet, and do I turn left or right?

One of the men says, You better follow me. I’ll take you there. It’s not where you think it should be.

So I follow this man in his Toyota, about six minutes down the road, and then I see the bleachers first and then the high school.

He puts on his blinker and waits until I turn in, my arm raised out the window.

The mother I’m meeting MapQuested the school. The meet’s long, and we have time to begin to know each other, back and forth, in bits of conversation.

The trees are just beginning to push out green. Barre, Scary Barre, which always reminded me of the saddest parts of Manchester, New Hampshire, when I was a kid, where streets of once gracious houses were crumbling into sad and broken dreams. On our way home, my daughter and I stop at a 50s-style hamburger joint, where I buy a vanilla milkshake for my daughter from a sweetly cheerful teenage girl. The milkshake is the one of the best we’ve tasted in years.



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.


  1. Nice to have a lovely, positive review of a great town! I road my bicycle through Barre and everyone was super friendly…plus their is an awesome bookstore! Glad you found your milkshakes,too!

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