Author: Alison Fields

Griffing, 1991-1996

Family History / Houses / Nostalgia / Personal History

(This is Part Five of a series. Part Four is here.) The end of Junior Year, the Countess and I were taking our traditional circuit—shoegaze, cigarettes, a self-guided architectural tour through the fanciest neighborhood in town, which was on the opposite side of town from our own, and through which we could (illicitly) cut on the way to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Countess had a favorite house, a Gatsbyish ersatz chateau, slightly reminiscent of […]

Fenner, 1991

Family History / Houses / Personal History

(This is the fourth part in a series, the third part is here) I liked the apartment at Fenner. It was light and airy, with wide third-floor windows and views that made Asheville look like an actual, real deal city in the distance. Dad kept birds, two striped finches, in a cage by the kitchen, and continued to feed and water an escaped hamster, Hamlet, out of a couple of antique Spode saucers by the […]

Haywood, 1990-91

Family History / Houses / Nostalgia / Personal History

(This is the third part of a series, part two is here) It was a big deal when the condos were finished. The building was one of the first fully-renovated, maybe the first fully-renovated residential building downtown. In those days, downtown was a millimeter removed from ghost town, and probably still read that way to most people, save my mother, who’d spent the last five years running a non-profit to convince people otherwise. When she’d […]

Westwood, 1976-1991

Family History / Houses / Nostalgia

(This is the second part of a series. Part One is here.) The house on Westwood was two stories tall, a pale stucco colonial, built around 1920. It had thirteen rooms, almost all tiny, and a densely flowered yard, also tiny, overlooking a manmade lake. But to describe my childhood home the way I truly want to describe it, you can’t rely on realism. It exists in a kind of magic space, a liminal, half […]

Sutherlin, 1976

Family History / Houses / Nostalgia

The house on Sutherlin was a duplex. My parents had moved there from a small brick rancher, further out of town on Virginia side, up in a neighborhood that wound up the side of a low ridge, from which my mother had a nearly unimpeded view of the starry night sky. She would stand at the window, contemplating the Big Dipper and the vastness of space. And it was there she decided she’d be happier […]

A Ghost Story

Uncategorized

The hotel was gabled stone building, fitted with a conical turret and Gothic Revival windows. We found it on a narrow curving highway, just under the south side of a high truss bridge we crossed accidentally several times because the combination of left-side driving and roundabouts are like kryptonite for my father. The weather was bleak, even for the Scottish Highlands. We trundled in, dripping, over the threadbare floral carpet. The walls were high, papered […]

The State I Am In

Uncategorized

It begins at the end of August 2019, the week before Labor Day. I have returned bedraggled, overstuffed, feeling old and tired after the second of the three music festivals I committed myself to this summer. So grossed out by my own indulgence, I make a spreadsheet labeled ATONEMENT, which I will use to get my life in order, tracking exercise, food, money, all the things that seem to be spiraling out of control, and […]