Former Hospital Grounds, Lunch, March

My daughter signs up to give blood in Waterbury, about an hour away from us. The three of us decide to make a morning of the expedition, with the youngest driving, including the stretch of interstate.

After we drop her off, my youngest and I walk around town, and I buy her a watery hot chocolate in the one place that appears to be open that morning. It’s cold, and we end up back in the car, watching a few skiers on the town’s rec fields.

We talk about dogs and high school and how writers are the most annoying people on the planet, always peering into strangers’ lives, wondering. Even worse, writers write about their families.

True, I admit. It’s a burden.

It’s about 11 degrees. She orders sandwiches on her cell phone from a nearby bakery, and I tell her to add cheesecake to that digital order.

When my older daughter returns, we pick up that order at the bakery window — or, I pick it up. One person only, please. We eat falafel in my car in the enormous and utterly empty parking lot of the former Vermont State Hospital for the Insane. The extensive brick buildings are now state offices. Empty, now, too.

As we eat, we talk about the tall smokestack, crumbling and apparently unused, with VSH bricked near the crest. Two geese fly by, and I realize how near the river we are. So much has happened on these grounds, so many people, so much living, so many years.

It’s cold, cold, and we keep driving. March, my father’s birthday, a promise of spring in the offing.

But I’m beginning to understand this: We never know. Life is a foray into mystery.

— Suleika Jaouad, Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted

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.

2 comments

  1. Thanks for the book quote, thanks for the gorgeous sky photo, and your conversation with your daughter made me smile – although my kids swore that they had the most annoying mother on the planet (as a professional church musician/single parent I had to arrive early and was always the last one to leave, or so it seemed to them!). They have all survived. I do enjoy the glimpses into your life. Tell her thanks for letting you share her with us;)

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s