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My grandmother Mildred died on July 2, 1989, the day before I flew home to Seattle from Washington DC, where I’d lived for six months while trying to figure out what to do next. Although I had approximately no money to my name—I “borrowed” cash from my DC roommate to catch a bus to the airport—I …

13

In the late 80’s, Eric, Erin, and I lived together in a funky old house on Capitol Hill. The house had a distinctive feature: a rounded balcony in the front held up by once-fancy columns. Our odd landlord was reachable only by mail to a P.O. Box in Tacoma so we sent him our rent …

12

Several years ago, a woman I worked for at Microsoft gave me a Christmas gift of a set of four stone coasters that have pretty pictures of birds, greenery, and a little nest filled with three perfect little eggs. She explained that she imagined that I lived in a warm, welcoming house and that we …

11

I don’t have a great track record with pets. I blame it on my early troubles with rodents: in particular, the family of gerbils I looked after during Christmas break in third grade and Christopher’s pet rat, Martin. Actually, third grade might have been the problem. Our third grade classroom featured a family of gerbils—a …

10

I don’t have many amazing Halloween memories. We weren’t the kind of family that spent months brainstorming and weeks sewing elaborate costumes. One Halloween when I was about nine years old, my mother asked some friends if they had any old makeup lying around (Mom wore none herself, not even lipstick), explaining that “Jenny wants …