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Somewhere on a Disappearing Path: Photo Essay by Iveta Vaivode

“Come, child! Let’s listen to the bees singing,” my aunt would say every evening before we went to bed. Her white hair always reminded me of dandelion heads, so beautiful and delicate you almost fear to touch them. I remember her singing songs about the natural world while working in the garden. She would also spend long hours with me talking about the family I never ... [Continue Reading]

Photo: Richard BH

Lilac Stitches

I met my future stepmother in a Leningrad subway when I was eight. Luda was a twenty-year-old transplant from a small Ukrainian town, painted with shiny scarlet lipstick and heavy eyeliner and hanging out with her best friend, prowling for adventure and male generosity. Instead of finding easy fun, she got hit on by a single father in a fake fur coat, thirty-five kopecks ... [Continue Reading]

Photo by Laurel

From the Hearth in Périgord

When I first approach the five-hundred-year-old farm, I am not sure I’ve come to the right place. The address Danièle Mazet-Delpeuch had given me a month earlier when I called her for an interview was simply “La Borderie,” the name of her French home and cooking school sewn into the fringes of a diminutive village in the rolling hills of the Dordogne, a region of ... [Continue Reading]

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That Spanish September

When I graduated from college, in the spring of 2001, it seemed to me that where I situated myself, where I’d been and wherever I went next, indicated who I was. Place was like fashion, a signifier like a college sweatshirt. But place was also a passport, a record of collected stamps and visas, sure, but a ticket elsewhere. And since I had always admired beyond limit ... [Continue Reading]

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The Purest Form of Play

"Place begins with embodiment. Body is a place, and it shapes our perceptions." Malcolm McCullough I grew up with a view of the ocean. When I was little my father used to take me out in the evenings, past the breakers, into deeper water; it was quiet and soothing. I took swimming lessons over the course of a number of years. My memories of these lessons are physical, not ... [Continue Reading]

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The Size of Regret

Crammed in a small phone booth, I gripped the receiver in my hand like I was afraid to let go. The sounds of the chaos outside— screaming, half-naked men and women running through the street —were muffled, and I felt, with the glass doors closed around me, sheltered for the moment. “I’m so sick, Mom,” I said. I was 17 years old, it was my first time abroad, my ... [Continue Reading]

Farm

Family Farm

1. Let’s begin with the rainbow, even though, in an ideal world, it would probably come at the end: It has been a wet summer, worst in twenty-eight years. Mud and gloom. The old family farm, Fjederholt, empty for most of a decade, grows damper and mousier by the minute. “Remarkable,” say the curious neighbors, “that it hasn’t all fallen ... [Continue Reading]

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The Wind’s Keeper

We smelled the island before we could see it. The pungent acid scent hit us like a wave. “Oh my God,” I said, scrunching up my nose. “What is that?” It was past midnight, and we were heading to Volcano, a volcanic island in the Aeolian Islands blanketed with black, sulfurous ash. In the distance, I could see the faint glow of lights as we motored through the ... [Continue Reading]

Switzerland Photo

Remembering Jane

I’d known Jane less than 24 hours when she told me a secret she’d been carrying around for months. She was driving me to see her Swiss doctor to take care of a bladder infection I'd had since I came to Europe six weeks prior. I was backpacking with three 18-year-old guys, and I was thirsting to speak to a woman—something, at 17, I had been too naïve to know I’d ... [Continue Reading]

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A Trip To The Castle

The tin fence is half-collapsed, and the smoke that billows out of the shack might be meat or it might be trash—or by the smell, both. We crunch the rocks and rubbish beneath our Converse to get a closer look. A few mangy chickens cluck around the debris-strewn yard: cardboard and wires and buckets of empty. Broken-teeth rock juts from the earth. It’s the same ... [Continue Reading]