On the illusions of class mobility

Illustration by Carmen Johns

In 1984, on the edge of Highway 518, my family lived in a bright blue building with neon yellow letters looping across the front to announce its name: Snack Shack. Tourists whipped by, winding up the pass to Taos for skiing, and locals took the low road to Peñasco, a town of roughly one thousand people at the base of 10,000 foot peaks.

My parents paid $15 a month for rent.

The Snack Shack was what remained of an old set for the 1977 motorcycle movie, Sidewinder. The film crew had slapped paint on an old, crumbling structure that was…


A few considerations for people unfamiliar with the cultural attachment to grass

Rusty push mower laying on the ground
  1. DO consider what it means that you have moved to a place with lawns:
    a. More rain (Don’t forget that you used to dance and pray for this. You said three days of rain would be awesome, so buck up).
    b. The sun sometimes disappears for a week. It might even disappear for an entire winter.
    c. More green everywhere (this might mean the end to red, or yellow, or pink, or purple.)
    d. There will be a LOT of white people — often with way more money than you have.

2. DON’T buy a rusty push mower for $20…


People have always fought to be free

Image: Getty Images

The light has been returning for two months, but inside their cells the women can’t tell that the sun has just set. There are no windows. The yellow-orange of fluorescents light the halls. Kristin and I meet with the women twice a month, buzz into the detention center from the sidewalk, and wait for the guard to come. We pass through the metal detectors, turn in our driver’s licenses, and pause at three different bolted doors as the guard buzzes each of them open.

The light from the lengthening days makes it feel like anything is possible — for me…

Emily Withnall

I teach and write in Missoula, Montana. I am working on a book about domestic violence and hydraulic fracturing. Find more of my writing at emilywithnall.com

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