Dear self,

You’re sitting on your parents’ bedroom floor, a plastic laundry hamper next to you, folding your dad’s t-shirts while crying.

Upstairs, in your bedroom, a man is sleeping soundly. He came here last night, bringing a Dominos pizza and a bottle of Goldschlager, for what was theoretically your second date.

On your first date, you went to see G.I. Jane at the mall, and afterward made out ferociously in his car. Sitting in the dark, all hot breath and hands, you told him you were cool with fooling around, but didn’t want to have sex — you were…


Dear self,

You’re in a massive, echoing gymnasium, one of many bodies occupying one of many folding metal chairs that have been arranged into long, tight, marching rows. Everyone around you is the same age, more or less, all recently graduated from top U.S. universities, most likely with excellent grades. You passed a rigorous interview process to be here, and so did they.

The women at the front of the room are talking to you about white privilege.

You feel uncomfortable.

They’re reading aloud from ‘Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,’ an essay by a white woman reflecting on her privilege. …


Photo by Matthew Henry

Dear self,

You’re standing at the kitchen window, the light outside already starting to dwindle even though it’s only early afternoon, because Maine winters are as lightless as they are cold.

Your mother has just told you that she wants to kill herself.

The catalyst for her outburst is still resting in your hands — little glass flowers that you had been trying to hang in the window as a cheerful reminder of Spring, but which had instead elicited deep despair.

She’s leaning against the counter, her face tear-streaked, left hand in the shape of a pistol held to her…


Photo by Sarah Pflug

Dear self,

You’re walking across campus alone, heading back to your dorm room and the dining hall. They’ve only just opened for dinner, so it will be mostly empty, which is what you want. You’ll slide your tray along the salad bar, filling a bowl with lettuce and chopped vegetables and a hard-boiled egg, and then consider the options at the pasta station. On your way to the cash register, you may grab a slice of cake or an oversized vanilla cookie dotted with M&Ms. Then you’ll take your tray and find the furthest, most silent corner, sit, and eat…


Dear self,

You’re walking along the road that stretches back from your parents’ house, and the fields on either side of you are full of goldenrod and the hum of insects, so it must be late August. School will be starting again soon, and you’ve been thinking big thoughts about your life.

The idea came to you in a flash, as you ambled along, kicking pebbles and breathing in the hot dusty air. You were remembering the man in church on Sunday who spoke right before the priest gave the final blessing. He was a young missionary in Africa, and…

Letters to a Young White American Girl

Reflections on views I have held.

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