The hardiest sailors have sea legs for storms

The hardiest sailors have sea legs for storms. They walk, not exactly easily along the deck, but like spiders with sticky legs that hold fast to whatever surface they can find. They scurry. But they do so only when they are sure they will make it to the place they are aiming for. It was…

The sisters were unwrapped and unwound at the door

The sisters were unwrapped and unwound at the door. A brisk and hearty maid helped them out of their coats, scarves, and hats, cooing as she collected the crisp, frozen articles from them. Arms piled high, she left, trailing a scarf as she went. Another maid arrived in the first one’s place. This one was younger, softer, with little…

How cold the night was

How cold the night was. The sisters bundled in furs, their cheeks rough red, as if slapped. They walked to the grand palace hurriedly, arm-in-arm, their great white clouds of breath trailing them as they went. “A carriage, Jane, would be prudent,” Bea hissed between her teeth. “A carriage is money.” “Surely we have enough…

As a young woman, the baroness had become quite famous

As a young woman, fit and sturdy with apple red cheeks, the baroness had become quite famous after a fashion for having climbed Mont Blanc with her new husband. She returned, flushed, wildly happy, and completely uncertain as to what all the fuss was about. “We were merely out for a long walk,” she said,…

In Vienna, they sat in coffee shops

In Vienna, they sat in coffee shops filled with glass windows and wooden tables with marble tabletops, set with silver spoons and white linen napkins. There were ferns between tables and palms in the corners, long and leggy, their soft spikes reaching toward the patrons. Women sat in fur stoles, pearls dripping daintily from their…

As sisters, only one was beautiful even though they both looked the same

As sisters, only one was beautiful even though they both looked the same. Same eyes, same color of hair, same cheekbones and coloring, same shaped mouth but rearranged just enough to make a difference. It was the youngest with slightly plumper feature – bigger eyes and a bow-shaped mouth – that stood out. It was…

The first time he set foot on the new continent

The first time he set foot on the new continent, he felt unmoored. Granted, he’d spent the last four months aboard ship and felt somewhat ill-prepared for the battle of land and sea in his body. The ship’s carpenter had warned him that he’d walk askew for a few days, head and shoulders against the…

A sailor can spot a lander in an instant

A sailor can spot a lander in an instant. Their gait. Their belt. Their pants. All of them giveaways. A too-clean shirt. And there, in the eye, a flash of insecurity, of nervousness, a worry of being found out. These two sailors were smaller than the others. One just a boy really. The other, well,…

Boys to Remember from a Bygone War

They were dutiful boys and men, who stood in line for a paycheck, looked eagerly for letters from home, longed for packages of socks and cigarettes, and wore their wills pinned to their jackets.

What’s Left Behind When All Is Said and Done

As I add another piece (the name of the ship they sailed on to America, a draft card, an alternative spelling of their name), I move on to the next search with a little voice prodding me along, asking, What makes up a life?

There and Back Again: Tales of Love and Adventure

We are all in search of love – in search of that person who loves us for our beauty, our warts, or our narrow-minded impatience and judgment of others (I’m looking at you, Elizabeth Bennett). We are all in search of adventure – to match wits with clever antagonists, to search for treasure and return with a boon, be it gold, experience, or knowledge.

The Night Is Filled with Wonder

At the very heart of it, The Night Is Filled with Wonder is an adventure novel. And like every adventure, the main character returns with a boon: knowledge. When faced with danger, something bigger and more unimaginable, she does this: she presses on. No matter what. She just keeps going.

Crushed By People and History in Istanbul

I felt swallowed up in Istanbul. Stunned at times by the beauty. Overwhelmed by the crush of people. Struck dumb by the thousands of years of history. A country mouse at the hub of the start of the civilized world.

Here Be Dragons: Let’s Go Off to See the World

When I told my rather over-protective mother that we were going to Turkey I could count on her lack of geographical knowledge to not know exactly where we were going. It is a very American thing to not know where anything is in the world. We all came from somewhere else and in the getting…

The Making of an American

In the West, everyone is from somewhere else — heading to somewhere else. We are, at the very least, a country on the move. On our way from what was to what is — without looking back.