Author: Alison Fields

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 […]

Into the Woods

Personal History

The thing about the required three-day camping trip was that I knew it was coming. We’d been informed at admission to boarding school that one day, quite without notice, the spiteful gods of sodden sleeping bags would demand their tribute, and no foul weather, no cunningly worded doctor’s note, no comprehensive catalog of outdoors-related psychic trauma would save you. I’d been dreading the trip since matriculation and found reminders of its incipient horror everywhere, from […]

The Ladies

Family History / Nostalgia / Personal History / Women

The first doll in the doll collection was a baby doll. A hideous oft-bodied thing with a hard-molded plastic head, about  the size and shape of a small sack of Irish potatoes. The doll’s official name was Baby Precious, which struck me as inordinately stupid. “I think Baby Precious is a such a sweet doll,” my mother would say. I thought Baby Precious looked like Marlon Brando stuffed with one of those embedded noisemakers that […]

Women in Rock

Music / Personal History

Summer 2001, late night, at a sidewalk café in my hometown with a table of friends, one of whom was then dating the bass player of one of my favorite bands. The bass player was nice, genuinely so, and funny, and we were all a little drunk, I think, and somehow I got to talking to him about writing. I’d finished a draft of novel, a deeply adolescent relic full of punk rock teenagers in […]