The summer before my sophomore year of college, I took a few days off from waiting tables to spend time with Numiny, my fairy godmother. She invited my family to stay with her in Cape Cod every summer, told stories of her adventures all over the world — from Lapland to Kilimanjaro to Cairo — encouraged me to read and be brave and accept my nerdy tendencies with grace. She was a philanthropist who built libraries and loved animals, particularly turtles, and would always say she wanted to be the “first penguin” — the one who would jump in first to make sure no one else would get eaten. I cherished our time together, even when she had me remove her glass eye with a tiny suction cup before we went swimming. She was in her nineties and almost entirely blind at the time and had just gotten her first tattoo so “the med students would have something to talk about when they carved [her] up.” She asked me what I was going to do with my life after college. I said I wasn’t sure and explained it was all quite overwhelming. She took my hand and said, “Heed the generous impulse.”

Deering Oaks Park, Portland, Maine

Teacher. Traveler. Reader. Poet. Aspiring cook.