All posts filed under: Family History

Dangerous Lineage

Family History / Women

I come from a long line of dangerous, complicated women. For generations back, they’ve defied expectation, edict, convention and commandment to go out into the world and be the women that they were, as opposed to the women they were supposed to be. They built businesses and communities. They took care. They took risks. They never lost sight of a world bigger than the one they were told to accept, and in so doing, they […]

Gloria

Family History / Uncategorized / Women

They say, at about 6am this morning, Gloria Maxine Mitchell Altizer Moran passed away peacefully in her sleep. Gloria Maxine Mitchell Altizer Moran. That’s twelve syllables, at least three lives and five epic novels (maybe six, “Maxine” alone is worthy of a twofer). I always thought I’d name my daughter Gloria after if I’d ever gotten around to having a daughter. But I never called her Gloria, not to her face anyway. I always, only […]

The Park, 1996-?

Family History / Houses / Nostalgia / Personal History / Uncategorized

(This is Part 8 of a series, Part 7 is here) You never expect the Deep Suburbs. Not when you’re a young person inclined believe they are dystopias, whose bookshelves are packed with searing indictments of, whose politics are starkly aligned against, whose internal jukebox comes programmed with so many songs decrying, whose family (you believed) were absolutely committed to the revitalization of the urban core and strictly anti- the interests, ideologies and infrastructure that […]

Sherwood, 1991-?

Family History / Houses / Nostalgia / Personal History / Uncategorized

(This is Part Six of a series. Part Five is here.) At some point in the last three decades, my sister and I became fixated on the geography of Dad’s basement. We know where it starts, at least in a material sort of way, but we’re not entirely sure of where it ends “Across the street? A couple of miles away? Canada?” It’s a joke, of course, but one rooted in the peculiar reality of […]

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 […]

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 […]