Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ante-ing Up

In my previous post, I gave the first two installments of my Up-scale life. Here are a few more:

At 21: I had left Sarah Lawrence after a drunken, drugged year to become an au pair in Williamstown to Clara and David Park, whose daughter Jessy was a kind of autistic celebrity, thanks to Clara's detailed case history The Siege and, later, Exiting Nirvana. As an adult, Jessy was the subject of an Oliver Sacks documentary and of a magazine article written by ... me: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1101010416-105619,00.html. So I guess you could say I'm name-dropping here. I spent the spring in Paris when the Parks traveled there for David's sabbatical, and I was about to enter Williams College as a transfer student in the fall. If you'd asked me what I wanted to do for a living, I probably would have said clinical psychology—Jessy was a delight—and psychology turned out to be my major at Williams. At 21, I was in the process of a long-distance breakup with a guy named Bob, whom I'd met at a summer camp in Colorado where I worked as a laundress. And I was definitely going to be a hermit when I grew up.

At 28: Other and I had hooked up my senior year at Williams and after my graduation spent several months traveling through Turkey, Greece, Italy and Britain before settling first in San Francisco (where I did research in a methadone clinic in the Tenderloin), then in Brattleboro (where I started drinking at noon and spent most of my time watching Mary Hartman reruns), then in New York, where we lived in a 350-square-foot, seventh-floor walkup (no exaggeration). I was struggling to write, but finding it hard and lonely, and working as a night proofreader at a newsmagazine.

At 35: After celebrating my graduation from Columbia journalism school by studying fiction-writing with Paul Bowles in Tangiers, I began to hear the tick-tock of my fertility clock. I shouldn't have worried. Within two months I was pregnant. When I was 35, my son J, the smartest, sweetest kid who ever lived, was 4, and Other and I had bought a loft in Noho. I was aching to have another child. Between ovulatory cycles, I worked as a reporter at the newsmagazine. If you had asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have said a stay-at-home mom. Really.

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