This Annual Fête

When I was just out of graduate school, I taught middle school kids for two years in a program where another tutor rubbed me wrong. She was forty and supremely confident; she and her husband had made what was likely a ton of money on Wall Street and now lived in Vermont. She laughed that they had spent $100K renovating a bathroom — more than I later paid for a house and 100 acres.

At the Memorial Day Parade, I met her family, with their two little boys. I was childless then, and longing for a baby. She had a dog on a leash. One son had contracted E. coli.  The deal was, she said, I told him we would get a dog if he didn’t die. So, we got a dog.

Part of me wishes I could ruefully look back at my younger, snarlier self (who cares how much someone spends on a bathroom, anyway?) with humor and lightness. But really, the crotchety side of me is immediately recognizable — if anything, ground deeper, more articulate, wiser for the wear.


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. Can we have coffee? I see a transcendence of values over time. And in those moments, a nutshell of the political climate today. Also my personal discomfort in wondering about my immediate association of a 100K bathroom person moving to rural Vermont back then with national immigration today. Lots to ponder.

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