The Moral Arc

The fall after I graduated from Marlboro College, I was living in Brattleboro and working at Omega Optical where I crafted tiny round glass disks used as high-tech light filters — a strange and short-lived job for me.

That fall, David Souter was nominated for the Supreme Court, and on NPR we listened to every word of the hearings. A bachelor, Souter lived in Weare (pronounced where), New Hampshire, not far from where I grew up, a little town I knew well. Brilliant and witty, Souter made New Hampshire proud.

That fall, young as I was and newly in love, I rightly considered myself an adult. I walked to the company’s enormous building, not far from where I lived, and whose back doors opened to the weed-flanked railroad tracks, just above the wide Connecticut River. Before the winter, I knew I was unsuited that job and moved on. By the next spring, I was living in a tipi, and then my boyfriend and I packed up our old diesel Rabbit and a rusty Saab and moved west to graduate school.

I was glad to join adulthood, even though, as any young person, I had no idea how difficult that would be, how piercing a price the world would extract for my share of wrongdoings. My teenage daughter once urged me not to take our arguments personally — terrific advice. Step back; breathe. Justice isn’t personal to me, or anyone else, either. Watching her sister’s soccer game yesterday, in a row of women talking about Kavanaugh’s confirmation, I’m still astounded that she’s now one of us, more grownup than teenager, with all that means.

My fury about people is based precisely on the fact that I consider them to be responsible, moral creatures who so often do not act that way.

— James Baldwin

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Photo by Molly S.

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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