I met Amie Reilly at the Fordham Graduate English orientation. She was the only other person with young children in the program. We panicked and commiserated and pep-talked each other throughout the two years and huddled after class and ran to a bar called Not Carmines and felt discouraged and near tears and read each other's papers and talked about how hard it was to show up in class worried about the paper you were handing in or the presentation you had to give or reading you had to analyze -yes- but also worried about whether right at that moment someone was calling your phone set to silent about pink eye or forgotten lunch for a field trip or the wrong clothes packed or worse about whether or not the person who was supposed to pick up your 6-year-old at the bus would remember to pick your 6-year-old up at the bus and a million other things that were tugging at you at that moment. You weren't supposed to be in grad school with children. It was obvious from the start. Not young children, and not if you are a woman. A man can hang up all the baby pictures he likes. Everyone knows there's no big pull there, for most of them, no guilt, no anxiety, no expectation that you be everywhere at once, like Owl in Arnold Lobel's Owl at Home who thinks if he runs fast enough he can be upstairs and downstairs at the same time.
Amie is now living the dream post-Master's life, teaching two courses at Sacred Heart University and writing beautiful creative pieces like this one.
(By chance, or not chance, she lives in the Connecticut town where I have often dreamed of living, where we spent most of the Christmases of my childhood, most of the July 4ths, so many summer days, falling asleep on the wicker couch on the porch, ambient air swollen with the smell of crushed blackberries and honeysuckle vines, resonant with the surging sound of the tide coming in, squishy flip-flops up the walkway, the screen door clanking open and shut, bright with red bathing suits and yellow towels hung on the line to dry, shapeless peppermint ice cream days that ended with the heady smell of salt air permeating the room as we slept.)