Current Creative Writing Minors

Amanda Chu

Major: Science, Technology, and International Affairs
Minor: Spanish & Creative Writing
Year: Senior

Tell us about yourself!
Amanda is a senior in the School of Foreign Service and a first-generation college student. She was born and raised in Queens, New York. On campus, she writes and edits articles for the Georgetown Voice. Her writing has been published in the Baltimore Sun, the Financial Times, and the Newtown Literary.

Recent Publications:
Atlanta shootings show Asian Americans aren’t recognized in the country’s identity | COMMENTARY

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The first time it snowed in Philadelphia, we went to the 24-hour diner in Passyunk, the one American place on the block and the rare time we didn’t eat Chinese. We had spent the entire week eating different types of noodles, thick, glassy, chewy ones, and drinking teas. It reminded Jenn of home, so I didn’t mind.

We sat in the back. Whenever we went to diners, we got in the habit of getting milkshakes. Grandiose ones with generous scoops of ice cream and fresh strawberries. Jenn always got excited about it, said she felt so American.

She sat in front of me, licking pink ice cream off her silver spoon. We hadn’t been talking. I watched the snow fall outside the window. After a while, she took a spoonful, smiled at me, and with ice cream still in her mouth, said, “Do you fight like your parents?”

“Hmm,” I said. “I scream at my brothers.”

“No, like with people you date. Do you fight like your parents?”

“Oh, no. I would never hit someone.”

“Oh,” she said. She took another spoonful. It was quiet again.

“Why? Do you?”

She thought about it and started to laugh hysterically. The kind that made her body heave and I knew I had to wait until she was done to know. She covered her mouth with her right hand and dropped her spoon with the other. It clattered on the table and sounded unsettling against her laugh.

“I wish I did!” She leaned forward on the table and whispered, “What if we fought like our parents?”

“Right now?” I asked. She nodded. I said, “You can fight like your parents.” She slumped her shoulders. I put my hands up. “I’m not going to hit you!” She feigned a look of disappointment. I sighed, “What are we fighting about?”

She narrowed her eyes and smiled. “I cheated on you.”


“With multiple mailmen.” Her lips quivered.

I tried not to laugh. “Why?”

“So you can have free shipping.” She burst out laughing and I did too.

“Go ahead,” I said, when our laughter had faded into silence. “Show me how your parents fight.” She smiled and arched her back. She did this every time she was about to perform. I watched her get up from the booth. I was always watching her then.

No one else was in the restaurant. It was 2 a.m. The streets outside were covered in snow. It wasn’t much, three inches. By morning, the snowplows would come, and the roads would be cleared. By the next day, the snow would be gone. As I was looking outside, she had taken off one of her shoes and threw it right next to where I was sitting.

“Hey!” I shouted.

“Look at me! You don’t look at me anymore!” She tried not to laugh. I furrowed my brows, trying to be serious. She stomped her left foot repeatedly and screamed. I looked behind at the tired waitress sitting on a stool. She didn’t bother looking up at us. Jenn started throwing air punches at me and pulling her hair.

“The mailmen. They notice me. They give me packages!” She paused and then shouted, “I do everything for you! Even this, I did this for you!”

“For free shipping!” I exclaimed.

“For free shipping!” She dropped to the ground. She cried, counting with her fingers, “UPS, USPS, FedEx…” She started laughing hysterically again. Her laugh echoed against the black linoleum. It sounded rich and deep. Her hair was splayed in all directions. Her legs moved uncontrollably as she laughed. I saw that her socks were mismatched. One wet from the snow.


Once in a while, I take the train down to Passyunk and sit in the booth we sat in that winter years ago. In the beginning, you never think of how things could go wrong. I was in love with Jenn. She was the first person I ever loved. Even now, I can still remember the sound of her laugh. 

We never did fight like our parents. She never threw a shoe or even yelled. Silence was our poison. We administered it well—in bed, on drives, during meals. We were master alchemists in the craft. We spent hours beside each other, in our minds listing, confirming, refining every dissatisfaction we had with one another until each one was sharp and punctured deep. In the end, I wish she had screamed them. I wish she had screamed everything she hated about me. An indictment. Maybe then we would have had a chance.

Aluwet Deng

Major: Finance & International Political Economy and Business
Minor: Creative Writing and Entrepreneurship
Year: Senior

Tell us about yourself!
Aluwet (Lula) Deng is a young woman from South Sudan who uses writing to empower and heal others. She has been writing since she was seven years old. Coming to Georgetown from Salt Lake City has been a monumental change in her life. Adventure and self-discovery are among the journeys she has embarked on while being at Georgetown. Apart from being a writer, she also enjoys entrepreneurship and leading a Christian life aimed at empowering young women.

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They say the Night has ears, and Children talk to God.

        Deng was born in the remote outskirts of a village named PanNier. His father was a carpenter and his mother a farmer. He had two older brothers and a baby sister named Achol or “shu shu” for short. Deng always dreamed of going to a big university in Londun or Amberica and one day becoming the president of his country. His family was poor, but he didn’t let that impede his ambition and hustle; he begged his parents to enroll him in school although none of his older brothers had been to school, for they had to help their parents with carpentry, farming, and herding the small cows they had. Their family had no time for school and dreaming. They had to face the realities of their world: hunger, poverty, war, and living in a world devastated by the aftermath of colonization and power vacuums.

        Deng was 8 when he was enrolled in primary school. He was in reception with some five year olds, whose parents were a little better off and worked as traders in the city, and some kids his age, and even with a 15 year old named Jamis, who sold ceegaras, stolen gum, and old tea bags to enroll himself in school. The school was run by teachers sent by the city government and were trained either at the university or in Londun or Amberica; some of the teachers were amazing and loved the students, they always stayed after school and helped students learn more Englisi vocabulary and writing. Some teachers hated the school, and they complained everyday “no money, no money.”
        Deng always stayed after school before going to the market to help his mother sell fresh vegetables and fruits. He learned the Englsi alphabet and basic forms of conversation so fast that he skipped the reception material and was already learning the multiplication being taught in grade 2. Because there were too few teachers at the school, Deng could not leave his class and advance to grade 2. Instead, he received separate lessons from the grade 2 teacher, Mr.Wani. Mr. Wani was an upstanding man who looked upon the world with eyes so full of hope that it would blind any pessimistic sentiment. Mr. Wani was Deng’s role model: he went to Oxford in Londun and he had a very beautiful wife with a pretty smile and smooth chocolate skin. Deng wondered why Mr. Wani didn’t want more for himself, like being a businessman or even president. But no, he wanted to be a teacher.
        Mr. Wani taught them about power structures. He explained that the white man was able to gain all of Africa’s land and wealth by tricking them into feeling sympathetic for the white man and then turning against the African man. The white man was the biggest thief mankind had ever seen. Mr. Wani then said once the African man gained strength and power and slavery was banned, the African man then fought the white man off of his land. But even though the white man was physically off of the African man’s land, he had left behind his evil spirits and his evil ways. The white man left Africa in a mess. He created borders and moved people around and birthed ethnic genocide. The white man birthed tribalism. Deng asked Mr.Wani, “ Teacher, is this why we have greedy politicians who only care about power and feeding the people of their tribes?” Mr. Wani, then carefully replied, “ Deng, this is one of the manifestations of the white man’s evil spirits. He wants the black man to fight his fellow black man. The white man wants Africa to always be in conflict because he knows that a United Africa is a dangerous force that he dare not reckon with. He is afraid of our potential. He knows with all of our resources and land, we could rule all the world. Africa, the black man, can rule the white man.”
        Deng thought deeply about Mr. Wani was talking about. Mr. Wani was right. The white man had stripped Africa of wealth and turned Africans against one another. Deng believed that school was among the only ways that one could ever reach the status of the white man.

        Like ordinary human beings, Deng and his older brothers soon became tired of living poor, so they began looting the market, homes in the city, and even old ladies walking back from church on Sunday. Their father, Nelson, noticed that the boys had started wearing jeans and big sneakers. They even began to bring home devices like small radios and gave Shu Shu a new doll. Nelson and His Wife Aman did not have much, but they were not thieves. They tried to raise their children in the ways of the Lord. Doing bible studies every Saturday morning and going to mass at the big church at the village center and even sending the older ones to big city cathedral on Christmas. So their children will not be thieves in the Name of Jesus. Amen. Nelson warned the boys to stop thieving and gave them a beating they would remember for a lifetime. He roared with anger telling them:

“I am Nelson of PanNier. My father was a poor man, but a fine carpenter. My mother was a beautiful slim and dark-skinned woman, one of the finest women that PanNier has ever witnessed. But still, she was one of the best craftswomen and farmers, among all men in PanNier. They loved God with all their hearts. They had the faith and hearts of warriors. They never took shortcuts. Shortcuts are for weak men. Are you weak men ? Ahh, tell me, Deng, are you a weak man? You cannot be president if you are weak man. Look at the strong warriors, look at Nelson Mandela? Do you think he took shortcuts? Ahh, tell me, Deng, are you a weak man?”

He looked up at his father and said “No Baba. I am not a weak man. I will not do it again.” And from that day Deng tried his best to stop thieving. He would sometimes get caught up and steal some gum, ceegaras, and tea bags to sell at the market so he can make up some of his school fees.

        One year, Nelson and Aman had so little money that they had to pull Deng out of school so that they can all dedicate their time to carpentry and farming. Deng would help his father tie up the stringed wood beds and help his mother till the land and plant corn crops. He would then help his brothers herd the cows, milk them, and sell some at the Mulow Market. As the youngest boy, Deng did as best as he could. He wanted to help everyone in his family, in his world. He wanted to help the children whose bums had been so bruised by the hot sand and rocks because their bodily misfortunes bound them to the ground and they scooted everywhere begging for food, money, begging their government to take care of them, begging the world to notice their lives matter too.
        One night, in the pitch black village central field, Deng looked up to the sky and screamed:
“ Why do you hate us? Why do you make us poor and why do you make them rich? Why do you give them big cars and fancy clothes? Why do you give them guns and advantage, when you know in any fight, man to man, fist to fist, we would beat them down to ashes?”
Deng began to lose faith. He was losing faith in what his Baba and Mama believed in. How can God be so loving, and let this much evil into his world?
        What if there was some way he had the power to change his world? Through his own might and power? The educational route he was taking was okay, but it was taking too long. And God, clearly, wasn’t listening to any of Africa’s prayers.
Deng thought to himself: “ I know a couple of guys who have run away to different countries to find money and come back and help their families, I know some guys who took up big big guns and shot at people so they can get money…” Deng wasn’t a man of violence, but he had the mind of a warrior, a protector. He was a lover kinship and lineal blood. He knew that there was something he had to do…

        Days passed, and Deng found himself back at the village central field, but this time playing futbol with some of his old friends from school and his best friend Chan, a lanky boy with light brown eyes and skin so dark he looked like he came straight from a cocoa nut. Chan was not in school. He owned his own cow-trading business. His father died, leaving his mother and 7 younger siblings behind poor and hungry. He was a boy at appearance but in action a man, even the wise, would say, he was not a boy. A young boy who eats with the elders is a mighty man.
        Chan, too, had grown tired of being poor. He was tired of the cow-trading business. He was tired of moving those slow, smelly, cows around in a big herd all day, leaving for Mulow Market at 5 am and returning at 9 pm. He was only 14. And deep down, Chan was tired of being a Man. The toughest people are almost always the weakest.

Deng (roughly slapping Chan’s Shoulders try to get his attention), “Chan look at those big trucks… look at those men who got big guns hanging off their backs.. those look like the Aaaaye, Kaaay, Fourr, Teee, Sebenns those guys used in that Americani movie we saw at the bar that one night…and uh, you know I’ve been thinking…uh, so..”
Chan(interrupting), “ Deng do you know who those guys are? They are the rebel army trying to overthrow the government…Before you go admiring, be careful.. They’ll fuck you up. They don’t care if you’re woman, child, or oldman. They will beat you, take your money, and loot your house. And if you’re not careful, they will force you to join them to fight our government.”
Deng, “I have heard a little bit about them from Mr. Wani you know: Power structures, the white man wanting the Africans to fight each other. This is why these rebels are trying to go against are tribalist government. They, like us, are tired of being poor and hungry. So I don’t get why everyone wants to protect our so called government.”
Chan (thinking of slapping Deng), “You are such a foolish boy. You still don’t know life. You have to love your government, especially when you come from where we come from. We have trust our leaders. They kill anyone who dares go against them. If you don’t follow the rules, you will get fucked up. You will get fucked up, Deng.”
Deng (bursting out into anger), “ But Chan look at the way we are living. Look at you man. You have to work yourself like a dog just to get a little bit of bread in the mouths of your siblings and mama. My parents are barely making it now as we speak. Do you think I want my sister Shu Shu to grow into a world like this? We have to do something, we have to go Londun or Amberica to get some money and come back and rule this country. To help better the lives of our people.
Chan (moved his pain), “… I know, I know, I hate it too. What do you want us to do? We can’t just leave our families behind. Who is going to take care of my family… and…”
Deng (interjecting), “…It’s okay, Chan… I have a plan.”

        Treading the fine line of despair, Deng and Chan set out into the uncertain night sky. They didn’t tell anyone they were leaving, they just left. Before leaving their village, they looked back and said, “May peace be upon PanNier forever. May the God protect our people until we return.”
        They walked for miles and miles and passed many people and many villages. Chan once complained to Deng, “My stomach pangs of hunger. I’m tired. My heart is with my family in PanNier.” And Deng replied, “Chan, we have to be men. We have to bring change to Pan Nier. We have take destiny into our hands. God has forsaken our land.”
        They walked until they arrived to what felt like the end of the world. When they reached is when all their troubles began. They were trying to cross the border to get on the boat that was taking people to Londun… but prophecies do come to pass….

He who challenges God and takes destiny into his own hands, finds himself in the hands of the enemy.

“Young man… take this bongo, it will help relax your mind when you are shooting at those little fuckers by the governor’s palace..”, said Johnny, a soldier of the PKK.

        Deng and Chan found themselves as rebels killing their own people trying to also get the same power that Mr.Wani had warned him about. Deng was now turning into the manifestations of the evil spirit of the white man. They had become disillusioned with the reality of their worlds and drunk off power. How was Pan Nier or the rest of Africa going to be saved if they let the white man win ?

They can now only turn to God for saving.

Caitland Love

Major: Neurobiology
Minor: Creative Writing
Year: Senior

Tell us about yourself!
Caitland is a Senior in the college studying Neurobiology. She is a first-generation, low income student who spends most of her time empowering other students like her through the Georgetown Scholars Program Student Board. In her free time, Caitland enjoys running, Bikram yoga, reading historical fiction or memoirs, and of course, writing.

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Growing up was like swimming through molasses, like that quicksand in cartoons or the Princess Bride, like swallowing up. It wasn’t molasses because it was slow; it was molasses because I was covered in sticky noise and because everything sounded muffled when I clasped my ears against my parents’ fighting and because it was layered noise so not a single sound could get through it. It’s hard to notice someone drowning or maybe someone being buried alive unless you hear them coughing, trying to call your name.

Writing was my calling, my way of calling a name. It was my anger or my tears, on the pink stationery with my initials at the top, a letter to my dad. It was every single happiness I felt in high school, bundled in a tattered brown leather journal sitting on my book shelf. It was immeasurable pains locked away in a diary until the new pains needed company. It was a recognition of my freedom, found amongst the first blank page and then the second. Writing was realizing that being vulnerable with myself, listening to myself, could be just as difficult as getting someone else to listen. If growing up was quicksand, writing was the rope the hero throws at you in the very end. A narrow escape.

Lea Marchl

Major: Regional Comparative Studies
Minor: Creative Writing and Arabic
Year: Junior

Tell us about yourself!
Lea is a Junior from New York City in the SFS, studying national identity in the U.S. and the Levant. She hopes to find a career at the intersection of politics and culture, and wishes to write short stories and creative nonfiction. When not in class, Lea works at the library and bikes around D.C. On the weekends, she goes hiking as a guide for Outdoor Education.

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New York ended for me in a long and sad season of goodbyes. Last swim meet at Hunter College, last class on the Upper East Side, last movie night at AMC 84, last slice at Salvo’s. As presents to the friends I knew I would probably never speak to again, I wrote handwritten letters reminiscing how we had lived New York. Internally, however, I felt guilty that I had lived too passively in this place that demanded to be experienced. To be from New York is to assume a character. There is an expectation to meet, a need to stand out and I hadn’t quite done that. I thought back to the Midwestern transplants who called my parents when they couldn’t afford rent or quite satiate their hunger, who reveled in poverty just to say they had tried. They called these two people, who had tried their hand at New York and somewhat succeeded, for advice. But what had I ever done to deserve the right to say I had “done New York”? The processions of lasts seemed meek and ended anti-climactically.

“In my last months in New York, I was unhappy, and by association, resented the city. At the time, I was in the pits of an episode and I unchained pain and blame unto the streets with which I had always had a tepid relation. I anticipated my move to Washington, D.C as a fresh start, a new city to paint with my impressions. And yet, as my father drove the car packed with clothes and posters out of The City and I caught the last glimpses of the skyline, usually a symbol of what is to come and not of what has been, I cried. In the weeks that followed, homesick and lonely, I wrote down memories and senses of New York in the margins of my notebooks for classes that I did not understand or care for.” (October 2018, Lauinger Library, procrastination)

Tepid. A word I used a lot during that time. I first came upon it when I wrote the introductory piece for the yearbook that I co-edited. The theme was Travels at Sea and I riddled my letter with metaphors of archipelagos, ships, and waters of various temperaments. Tepid. It is an adjective for lukewarm water. But in that letter, and this note, and in other instances, I used it to describe my relationships with all of that which consumed my life, including the city, or is it The City. I wondered when my eagerness to be a member of that morning commute turned into weary resignation of having ended up there. I wondered if others felt the same. 

“Do you like it there?” is what I get when I announce that I am from New York, the city, not Westchester. That question is not asked of people who are from Boise, not in that tone. It asks what exactly went into my childhood, if I got to do the things kids do given that I lived in a place where it is expected to find a heroin needle in the playground, and no one owns a car. I answer that I did not like it then, but that I miss it now.

“I came to realize that I did not just miss my mother or my father but rather the theatre they played a role in: my old life. I missed the memories. I missed Mom trying to cook American breakfast foods on weekends and her grumbling about too much sugar in this country. I missed the background noise of the golden lineup of primetime CNN: Blitzer, Cooper, Lemon. The backdrop of the life I lead with my parents was New York and ultimately, that’s what I missed the most. I do not mean that I missed the city of New York but rather my conception of New York, my home. It was all the contradictions that arose when warm people inhabit a cold city. That meant the loud sirens that permeated any conversation, the stinky exhaust from an MTA bus, the screech of a subway pulling into the station. New York meant the hill I had to trek up to get to Colin’s apartment building on 69th, or Marilyn picking up the trash on 125th, or the flag that hung from Gabriel’s brownstone on 127th. New York meant the smell of coffee that I inhaled from my thick winter scarf that protected me from those brutal fifth avenue winds. New York meant humidity and the smell of trash. New York is just the label that was assigned to everything that wasn’t anymore. Everything that I missed.” (December 2018, Problem of God notebook)

It was in classes, often sitting at the back and leaving with little more information than when I came in, that I flexed a newfound flair for the poetics. I could never quite explain my unhappiness in those months beyond a feeling of being in the wrong place. Imagery became central to the scribbles in the margins of otherwise scarce notes. The heart of what I wrote was not what had happened in New York but what it felt like to me then. Writing New York in my new room in Washington became in of itself a new form of experiencing New York. 

Reminiscing had become a pastime. I spent all of my time on what had happened in the past and all that I had left behind, so much so that even when I wrote about the present moment, I wrote in the past tense. For a long time, this refuge prohibited me from recording my impressions of my new home until one day, I started a fresh notebook and scratched down notes about the Washington sunsets, the oppressive humidity and exactly what I thought this new city represented. 

Elfrieda Nwabunnia

Major: Government
Minor: Creative Writing
Year: Senior

Tell us about yourself!
Elfrieda is a DMV native, West-African American majoring in Government in the College. She is hoping to position her future life and career at the intersection of art and protest and pursue an MA in Creative Writing after graduation. From a background in competitive slam poetry and spoken word, she is continuing to widen the scope of genres she works with and is excited to keep growing as a writer. 

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…that night, I dream of a land, where the lady liberty wears faux-locs and fries up ox-tail for every new arrival at her dock. 
The neighborhood kids, play in the streets
all summer long.
the only purple on their skin taste sweet, like 50 cent grape popsicles from the ice cream truck.
They play till the streetlights turn gold, shine halos onto their scalps
This, is as close to being angels as the black kids will get this summer.
Here, they all learn to dance without bullets at their feet, learn to sing outside of funeral choir. 
Mommas don’t worry about pavement or police uniform swallowing their souls or bloodying their bodies, so 
the tea stays sweet all summer long.

Reginald Odom

Major: History
Minor: Creative Writing
Year: Junior

Tell us about yourself!
Reginald is a junior in the College. He is a history major who is particularly interested in Asian and African history. His goal is to become a narrative director in the video game industry since he has always found stories in games to be more unique and compelling when compared to television and movies.

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I honestly have no motivation to write right now. My back aches from being still and my stomach churns due to the burger I just sucked down. Maybe a double bacon cheeseburger and fries wasn’t the best choice of meal after eating mostly oranges for the last three days. Oh well, I had a craving and now I regret it. My dirty clothes basket is starting to overflow. Hoodies are piled on the basket’s top while joggers and underwear I haven’t worn in weeks hang from its mouth. It looks like a swamp monster. The monster is starting to smell. I don’t mind the smell though. I’ve spent so much time in this room that the pungent scent of old clothes has become something to look forward to every time I leave to go to the bathroom. I should probably wash those clothes. I am starting to run out of clean ones.

I should really come up with a story to write. Something fun, something new, something unique to me that nobody else can write about. Well let’s see. I can write about the experience of a swimmer! And not just any swimmer, a black swimmer on a team full of upper east side white kids. The protagonist should be a girl. She has left her old team, people she considered family, to come to a new faster more elite team to one day make the Olympics. At first life on this new team is pretty nice. Her times are dropping, her coaches are helpful, and she is making friends faster than Drake makes hits. In time however life begins to change. She realizes that her friends are not really her friends. They don’t want to hear about her interests in movies or video games. They don’t want to know about what goes on in the mystical land called Brooklyn, only about what happens in the city. They don’t want to listen to her favorite songs and they especially don’t want to listen to her political views. All they want is for the black girl to teach them how to Whip, Nae Nae, and Hit the Folks so they can go back to their white friends and show them how “lit” they have become. The girls on the team want to know which guys the black girl likes and the guys wont stop making poorly concealed jokes about her chocolate ass. The girl begins to sink. Her times slow down, her coaches talk to her less, and less and in time so do her “friends”. Eventually she quits the sport entirely. Yeah I could write that story but do I really want to relive that right now? No, no I don’t.

William Shanahan

Major: Finance
Minor: Creative Writing & Economics
Year: Senior

Tell us about yourself!
Will is a Senior from Rochester, New York in the McDonough School of Business. On campus, he is the Sports Editor of The Georgetown Voice, Treasurer of Georgetown Ballers, and on the Honor Council and men’s club rugby team. Will has three younger brothers and enjoys playing golf, supporting the Buffalo Bills and Sabres, and reading in his spare time. He is interested in sports journalism and also enjoys writing historical non-fiction, mini-biographies, and satirical pieces.

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A Formation

Meadow Lane was an innocuous name for an innocuous place. It sat off Allens Creek Road, which itself had been much busier with passengers in the last decade or so with all the new retail stores springing up nearby generating automobile traffic that drew the ire of many longtime residents of the neighborhood. Still, congestion on Allens Creek rarely backed up enough that the homeowners of Meadow Lane made it out to the town board meetings to protest the building of further stores on Monroe Avenue, just up the street. So, life on Meadow Lane continues in relative isolation. There were only five houses on either side of the street, as Meadow Lane and its two cracked sidewalks spanned only one hundred yards.

There were two crown jewels of Meadow Lane. One was a red brick on the corner that celebrated its 100th birthday last year, a quaint place that never seemed to show its age, as its more modern black shutters seemingly revived everything about the house, from the milk delivery slot that needed repainting to the discolored bricks that gave it structure. My house. We kicked our extra points after touchdowns in backyard football over the fence and into Meadow Lane, with the goalposts being the trunk of the big oak tree that loomed over the street and the twenty-five-mile-per hour speed limit sign. Everyone knew, however, if you needed to go faster than twenty-five on Meadow Lane, you were probably lost.

The other notable home, owned by two retirees with grandkids just down the street, was younger than its brick neighbor two doors down, built when the rest of the street was really starting to find its legs after World War II. This couple, the Dillons, frugal spenders themselves, had put a good deal of money into the home only after they were sure they had enough for their grandson Jay, my best friend, to attend college, an accomplishment few on Meadow Lane can attest to having experienced. Their new roof and clean yellow brick were as close to upscale as just about anything got on Meadow Lane. There was a narrow strip of dirt between the trees that marked the end of the Dillons’ property and the fence that bordered the Franks’ next door, which led to a little patch of grass usually littered with candy wrappers and old baseball cards, enclosed from the rest of the world by trees. The Secret Hideout.

The rolling meadow which should feature so prominently on our street is nowhere in sight, another beauty of nature fallen victim to urban sprawl. The meadow is no more, not that anyone these days knows where it was, or gives it much thought at all. The bottom line is, life on the quintessentially American street of Meadow Lane meanders on. The street seems nothing special to those passersby who might be trying out a new route on their morning run or have needed a turnoff after heading the wrong direction on Allens Creek Road. I doubt the reporters and their TV crews thought anything of it either when they came around. They would have had to meet those who call Meadow Lane home, however, to realize the sheer character of those people and, in turn, of Meadow Lane itself.

My older cousin Connor was one of those people, kind of. He lived a block away in a tidy brown house on Creekdale Lane according to his passport, but the truth was he slept just as many nights at my place as he did his own in those days. He had a soft face, one that if you took the time while you were still checking out his passport to glance at his picture you could guess that he still carried his baby fat on him. And he did, possessing a small gut to match the superfluous skin around his cheekbones. He could have grown up to be a handsome man once he figured out his haircut and hit his growth spurt. Little did we know that growth spurt would end with him being the tallest person on our side of the family, and that hair would transform into a well-kempt spike with millimeter-perfect tapering on the sides and back. When Connor takes his seat at Thanksgiving dinner these days, it seems every year there are more bags under his eyes, a prettier girl in the seat next to him, a nicer watch on his wrist. I get to see him kiss my mother on the cheek, talk private equity with Uncle Kevin from New York, and place bets on the outcomes of the football games that day on his iPhone. He knows I’m a fan, too: Jimmy, think there’s any way the Steelers trip up tonight? Meadow Lane, however, does not get to see as much of Connor nowadays.

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