Snow Day: Memories of Growing Up in the Bronx

Julie T. Anderson

I barely looked up from my books when I heard the news that Jan O’Malley jumped off the roof of our building; I was too busy writing a paper on The Catcher in the Rye. Alice Dougall, the widow in 5C across the hall, was telling my mother all about it in the living room. She said that she saw what she thought was a sack of laundry falling past her window—never did she imagine that what she had actually seen was a person. My mother immediately went down to 3g and told Amy Gupta, who was the mother of Kristy, the girl who used to be my best friend. Amy told Ruth, the old African American woman up in 6a, a spinster who lived with her cranky sister Fay, who went straight to Annemarie, the wife of Larry, the Irish Catholic cop, who knew about it already, because it was on their patio—1d’s—that the body had landed. This was in 1979, the autumn of my twelfth year, the year I started at the fancy prep school two miles up the road from my public grade school in the Bronx.
    After Jan O’Malley’s leap people in the building naturally began speculating about why she had done it. The most popular theory had to do with postpartum depression. I heard adults in the building talking about how Jan and Peter O’Malley had come to marriage late—she had been a nun, and he had been a priest when they met—how they had been trying for years to have a kid, how they had pretty much given up when, unexpectedly, Jan got pregnant, and there—all of a sudden—was little Tara, the O’Malleys’ miracle baby. Tara was born with a giant mole, like a knob, on her forehead. It was this, I speculated, that accounted for her being called a miracle baby. Though I understood the technical principles of sex by the age of twelve, I was hazy on such details as why someone should have to try—or want to try—for years to have a kid. And postpartum depression made even less sense to me. I therefore filed Jan O’Malley’s suicide away in a distant part of my brain, to be processed later or never. There were, for me, far more pressing matters: namely, getting As at my new and much harder school. On this rested my future happiness; I believed that if I succeeded at school, I could leave the neighborhood forever.
    I would like to say that I had gotten into Fieldston by sheer force of my brilliance, but that wouldn’t be true. I was smart enough, reasonably personable, good at performing in an interview despite my shyness, but I was not really outstanding in any way. It was, rather, my mother’s fierce determination that won me a scholarship to attend Fieldston. My mother herself had been the scholarship girl at her high school. She came from a working-class London family; her father was a sheetmetal worker, her mother a laundress. When my mother turned sixteen, my grandfather reputedly told her that she had to pay for her own room and board if she wanted to keep living at home. Because she had nowhere else to go, she was forced to leave school and take a job as a bank teller. Her ambitions for education were, accordingly, shelved away, to be channeled years later into her children—especially me, her older daughter. Once she started working as a parttime secretary at Fieldston and had glimpsed the layout of the school with its ambling lawns and magisterial stone buildings, its library twice the size of our public one, once she met the teachers and learned there were no more than sixteen or seventeen students in a class, and once she read the impressive list of colleges that its graduates attended—Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford—she decided that her children would go to Fieldston. Whatever it took. Regardless of cost. She would make it happen.
    As my world began opening up—my new school offering possibilities for a life I had never dreamed of—my old friend Kristy Gupta’s world slowly and inevitably began to shut down. I met Kristy when I was five, right after we moved into the neighborhood. We became best friends instantly. Kristy’s father John was from Bombay, so Kristy was half Indian, but I never noticed the difference in our skin color. Kristy was small and skinny with dark, serious eyes that studied the world around her. Like me she was a quiet child, and like me she could concentrate intensely. We played for hours at a time, creating elaborate stories that involved our Barbies traveling through time, levitating objects, and becoming invisible at will. Our Ken dolls were rarely involved. Though I did not see it at the time, when I look at pictures of Kristy now, I see the foreshadowing of doom on her tiny, intent, perfectly oval face. The pronounced circles under her eyes, the wide, unsmiling mouth. In our photos together she never laughs. I, by contrast, though painfully shy at school, was a loud, gregarious child at home. It was almost as if I waited all day, cocoonlike, brooding, to come home and burst into life. In photos of Kristy and me, I am always much bigger: taller, heavier, thicker boned. There is something thoughtless about the way I claim space, like a seedling, fast growing and greedy for all the water and sunlight it can get.
    Two years before I entered Fieldston, Kristy began complaining about a pain in her knee. As a result we could no longer play tag, slide and swing in the playground, or climb on rocks behind the Food Emporium. Gradually, too, the pain in Kristy’s knee spread, and she started complaining about pain in both her legs and her arms. I had a hard time understanding it, because I couldn’t see the rare form of childhood arthritis she developed. It wasn’t like breaking a leg or losing an arm or an eye; it didn’t make your skin pop out in lesions; it didn’t mean you lost your hair or needed an operation. By the winter of my first year at Fieldston, we had stopped seeing each other altogether. Every time I knocked on her door the summer before, her mother or father would open it and say, “I’m sorry, but Kristy is a little tired now and can’t play.” It came as a relief to both of us, I think— me because it was no fun to spend time with a girl who just sat in the corner of her room and glared at you for no apparent reason; her because it must have been maddening to have a friend who kept coming and taunting you with her unconscious, exuberant, animal health, terrible to watch while she grew up and left the only world you would ever know.

Wealth and space are intimately connected in New York City, and we didn’t have a lot of either. I grew up in a small two-bedroom apartment occupied by my parents, my sister, my sister’s friend Beanie, our dog Danny, our three cats—Alice, KC, and Ginger—nine mice, two fish, one hamster, and me. Before Fieldston I was never really bothered by this constant chaos of bodies, nor do I recall being bothered by the amount of noise that always surrounded us. The walls, floors, and ceilings of the apartment were so thin that I knew by heart all the lyrics to Neil Diamond’s Greatest Hits, Barbra Streisand’s Guilty, The Sound of Music, and Cats because Clarice Siegel in 4g right below us would play one of these albums at top volume every night. Nor did I notice the closeness of the voices arguing in the apartments next to ours, the sound of TV sets, of children playing stickball outside, of ambulances and police sirens.     Our apartment building, 5644 Netherland Avenue, was part of a group of buildings that had been built in the fifties, after Robert Moses insisted on putting a highway smack dab through Riverdale in the heart of the North Bronx. Up until then the area had been populated exclusively by wealthy families who lived in sprawling houses overlooking the Hudson and the Palisades. These houses were all quite distinctive in appearance—some were built in the style of Spanish villas, others like antebellum mansions, still others as Tudor manors or Frank Lloyd Wright ranches. When the highway was built, however, middleand working-class housing sprang up almost overnight and took the form of virtually identical six-story redbrick buildings that came in clusters called developments. My development, Netherland Gardens, was one of the larger—and cheaper—ones.
    My mother always said we moved to Riverdale from Washington Heights, on the northern tip of Manhattan, because of its better school system. And because it was a safer neighborhood, “a nice place to raise your kids.” I learned another reason in my early thirties, however. I was driving with my mother to a big shopping mall in Greensboro, North Carolina (where my parents had retired), and my mother was complaining about my father. This was hardly unusual; what was unusual was my mother’s next comment. “If it hadn’t been for your father’s fear of driving,” she blurted out bitterly, “we could have moved to a place where we had a big house and a nice yard, but your father insisted on staying in New York City.” It shocked me to realize that my father’s phobia about driving determined my identity as a New Yorker.
    Throughout my childhood my father ran an unemployment office in the South Bronx for the New York State Department of Labor, a job he hated but was afraid to leave. Once, I visited my father at work; the office was completely empty. On his desk: no books, no papers, no pens, no pictures of his wife or of his daughters. It was as if nobody worked there at all. About the only sign that someone occupied the space were the books he brought to work and stowed on top of a file cabinet. On the bus every morning, his reading consisted of poetry anthologies, short story collections, or, more bizarrely, grammar handbooks. In each case he would read the book thoroughly from beginning to end; he did not believe in skimming or jumping pages. My father did everything wholeheartedly and with complete commitment, whether it was studying grammar, learning to serve a tennis ball, making cheesecake, shooting pool, or playing poker. He had few friends, however, and between these periods of intense application, he would become depressed and drink heavily. “Julie,” he would tell me when the depression hit, “whatever you decide to do with your life, just make sure it’s not boring.” It made an impact on me; it reinforced my resolve to study hard, make sure I had options—to see the world beyond our small apartment.

My first month at Fieldston, I was invited to Sandy Schneider’s house for a sleepover. Sandy seemed a perfectly ordinary girl; she wore T-shirts, jeans, and sneakers, kept her hair pulled back in a ponytail, was a trifle chubby, and kept her books in a Jansport backpack slung over one shoulder.
     “Where does she live?” my mother wanted to know.
    “Park Avenue,” I said. “Park Avenue,” my mother repeated, visibly impressed. “That’s where all the rich people are.” I nodded, but it meant nothing to me. It simply did not belong to the vocabulary of my imagination to picture an apartment building substantially nicer than our own. So it was a shock when I entered Sandy’s building, having come home with her after school one Friday, to be greeted by someone called a doorman and then another man whose only job seemed to be making the antique and exceptionally well-polished elevator go up and down. I had the biggest shock of all, however, when the elevator reached the tenth floor and opened right into Sandy’s apartment.
    “Where’s the hallway? Where are all the other apartments?” I asked, confused. Sandy appeared equally confused by my question. “There aren’t any,” she replied, stating what to her was obvious. That night I discovered that not only did Sandy and her little sister each have their own room, there was even a maid who had her own room. Despite the family’s huge apartment and tremendous wealth, I was not jealous; jealousy requires a sense of entitlement I did not yet have. Still, Sandy must not have liked my enthusiastic admiration, for I was never invited back.
    After the debacle at the Schneiders’ house, I learned the rule quickly. I pretended that everyone at Fieldston was middle-class, that class differences didn’t exist. School made this easy. We put our stuff in lockers, just like at any normal school; we studied the same subjects—math, history, English, science, art, PE—we had stoners and jocks and popular kids and mean girls. Kids complained about their parents, stayed out too late at parties, worried about passing their drivers’ test, made out behind the gym. It was only on certain occasions, like the time when Lenny Epstein came to school late and showed up in a limousine, that you knew for sure someone had money. Still, it was apparent to outsiders that the school was a place for rich kids, and my friends from the neighborhood wouldn’t let me forget it. Once, after it had freshly snowed, a couple of friends picked me up from school, and one of them sarcastically asked, “Do the rich kids have servants throw their snowballs for them?” I mumbled that I didn’t know; I knew any answer I gave would be wrong. Her question pained me, for it illustrated the rapidly growing divide between my two worlds. The majority of girls in the neighborhood were heading toward a life of accidental pregnancy, early marriage, alcoholism, and divorce, complemented by a series of dead-end secretarial jobs, cramped living quarters near their parents, a fear of subways, and rare, timid forays into “the city.” I began taking the Liberty Lines bus into Manhattan every weekend with my new friends, wandering up and down the Upper West Side or around the Met, strolling across the park to Zabar’s to buy pain au chocolat.

In the middle of winter that year, a big storm was forecast. I sat anxiously by my window the night before and looked for hints of the snow that would require school to be cancelled the next day. The sky, however, was its usual mauve, so I opened the window, hoping to catch a whiff of the storm—something sharp, slightly acrid in the air. There was no smell, no sign of snow at all. Not even a few weak flakes. Nothing. Then, just at the moment I was about to settle down and do my homework, my sister burst into the room with Beanie in tow. Beanie technically lived across the hall from us in 5d, but she was in our apartment most of the time and was like a second sister. The reason Beanie spent so much time with us was because her mother—Lolita Lonewolf—stayed over most nights at her lover Helene’s place in Brooklyn. Sometimes, my mother got annoyed; she would wonder why she always ended up feeding three children and not two, but mostly she just felt sorry for Beanie.
    Furious about having my privacy so brusquely interrupted, I marched into the living room to complain to my mother. She was there, as she was most nights, sifting through the perpetual pile of bills on her desk, while my father sat in his baby blue recliner, tilted all the way back, looking like an enormous baby in a huge bassinet. He had a glass of whiskey by his side, the TV on. It didn’t seem to matter much to him what was playing: the news, a sitcom, a cooking show, a paint-by-numbers program, a quiz show, a cop show, a made-for-TV movie. He watched them all and laughed at their idiocy, mocking himself in the process.
    I put my case before my mother. She sighed, put down her pen and checkbook, her book of stamps, and asked, a note of pleading in her voice, if I couldn’t use her bedroom instead to study in. Angry but acquiescent I gathered my books and stomped into my parents’ room. As always I studied hard that evening, doing my homework, one subject after another, with little or no break: one, two, three hours straight. I had just learned of a school called Princeton, a college in some remote and distant place, that I believed would guarantee me entrée into the world of maids, pain au chocolat, and Park Avenue if I just applied myself enough. It did not occur to me once to question whether or not this was a worthy goal.
    That night I fell asleep heavyhearted, for there was still no sign of snow. I awoke the next morning to the crackly sound of the radio issuing from my parents’ room, raised myself to my elbows, and craned my head to look out the window. I saw five, maybe six, inches of snow piled up on the fire escape railing. It was enough to constitute—just possibly—a snow day. I lay in bed, straining to hear which schools were closed, and which were open. My sister, I could tell, was doing the same. Just when I was beginning to give up hope, the phone rang. “Yes, yes,” my mother said, “No school. Okay, I’ll tell her.” My sister and I both held our breath, for it was unclear which of us was to be the lucky one. After a moment my mother entered the room. Four critical steps later she was leaning over me, putting her hand on the comforter cover, heavy and reassuring, whispering, “You can go back to sleep—no school today.” Sleepy but exhilarated I pulled the comforter more snugly around me. Betsy stomped noisily around the room, yanked open the sock drawer, pulled out socks, flung open the closet, but to no avail.
    What woke me up an hour or so later was the sound of Peter O’Malley’s vacuuming. It sounded like he was mowing the carpet, the sound above me was so loud. Ever since his wife jumped, Mr. O’Malley had taken up vacuuming, especially in the morning, and sometimes as early as 6:00 am. It made my mother furious, but she never said anything to Mr. O’Malley, just smiled at him politely in the elevator, asked how he was, and afterward reminded us never to tell him—or anyone else in the building—our business. On and on he vacuumed, forcing me finally to get up. I found my mother standing by the living room window, since she, too, had the day off. She was watching the old ladies try to make it up the hill on an unplowed path with their groceries from the Food Emporium.
    As my mother stood there, transfixed by the old ladies’ struggles, I became transfixed by another sight: the little play street adjacent to the path. The play street—indeed, the entire hill—was untouched, and the snow looked perfect: a bluish white, sticky but soft, ideal for sledding. Normally, on snow days the kids from the neighborhood would have been converging on the hill all at once, but today there was no one; only Fieldston had declared a snow day. And that meant I was the sole kid from the development who was home that morning. The hill was mine.
    As my heart began to beat faster, I began to worry that some other kid might randomly appear to claim the snow for her own. I rushed about, grabbing clothes from drawers, as my mother collected snow gear for me—my extra-warm woolen hat, waterproof mittens, snow pants, down jacket, scarf, earmuffs, extra-thick socks, boots. Finally dressed I ran as best I could out of the house, my plastic toboggan rolled up under one arm, and in my layers waddled down the stairs. I desperately hoped I wouldn’t run into anyone on the way down—not the old German couple on four who were either Holocaust survivors or Nazis, I never knew which; nor Mr. Bowler, the courtly African American man who always wore a hat and lived alone; nor any of the posse of Sullivans who lived on two: the parents and six kids in a two-bedroom apartment. I hoped not to see Ruth coming into the building as I exited; she was like a grandmother to all the kids at 5644, giving us enormous quantities of monogrammed Lillian Vernon presents for Christmas, gifts we did not like and could not use, such as aprons and tacky stationery. If I saw her I knew I would have to stop and make small talk. I hated small talk, hated talk of any kind with anyone outside of my immediate circle of friends and family. I still had not conquered my grade-school shyness, which had caused me to tie and retie my shoelaces while sitting atop my lunchbox in recess during second grade.
    Fortunately, I saw no one (most everyone was at work or at school or staying inside), so I cleared the building easily, making it to the hill in no time. As I unrolled my toboggan, flushed with excitement, the squealing of a swing rang from the playground above me. It was Kristian—mean Jenn’s older brother—who was seventeen and who had had a mustache ever since the age of ten. He was swinging back and forth, back and forth, singing his wordless happy song: “la la la la la la la la la la la la la.” Kristian was a bagger at the Food Emporium when he wasn’t swinging. I had known for years that Kristian wasn’t quite right in the head, but only recently had come to understand what that meant: that he would never go to high school, that he would remain a bagger at the Food Emporium forever. The thought that, had circumstances been different, this could have been my fate chilled me.
    “La la la la la la la.” Around me the world was magic. No honking, no police sirens, no ambulances, no trucks backing out of the Food Emporium, no mothers yelling out their windows for their children, no transistor radios, no TVs, no kids screaming, nothing. Just the rhythmic creaking of steel against steel, chains meeting the axle of the swing. Kristian’s wordless song. For the first time I realized what something close to silence was. And all the while around me, the air was newborn, fresh, vigorous, the neighborhood a world uncharted and electric. I sensed the existence of a reality far removed from the one I lived in, a reality I had never experienced before. The irony of it was that it was always strikingly close at hand: present—right there—beneath the surface of daily life, the drudgery of school and homework, the implicit expectations of my mother. In that moment it suddenly didn’t matter whether I got into an Ivy League university or not, whether I proved to everyone that I was destined for better things. All that mattered was that I was alive and the moment was alive and the snow was calling to me and it was clean and pure and white and in it danced a thousand shifting colors—indigos, oranges, magentas, greens, yellows, violets—and they were mine. I was the adventurer in a distant land, my exotic find: I was there to partake in its magic, and I would make my claim on it.
    This feeling of exhilaration, however, lasted an astonishingly short time, about five runs down the hill. With each one the feeling diminished, and at the end of the last run, I recognized the loneliness that comes from being the solitary adventurer in a new land. The ordinary world returned, the magic forgotten. I experienced a sharp and profound longing for home and for everything home entailed: my mother, hot chocolate, a heated, cozy house. I rolled up my toboggan and trudged back inside, leaving Kristian swaying back and forth on his swing, his one-syllable song still strong and clear and true.

Too tired to take the stairs back up, I waited for the elevator. When it finally arrived I took purposefully heavy steps, trying to get the snow off my clothes and boots. It fell in little piles around my feet. Then, instead of going up the elevator went down. My stomach dropped because I knew this meant someone else was getting on, and I would have to talk to them. A couple of minutes later, the elevator clunked to a halt at B, and the door inched open. There, staring directly at me, her dark eyes sunken deep into her face, her skull weirdly large for such a small, small body, was Kristy. Kristy and I, face-to-face, she in her wheelchair and me with my plastic toboggan rolled up under one arm, the snow melting in the folds of my coat and hat. The telltale pile of snow around my feet. I felt as if I had been caught in some terrible crime, so strong was my sense of guilt. It was true; thoughts of Kristy had passed through my head a few times while I was sledding, but they were fleeting thoughts only, the product of an idle moment, and they had disappeared as quickly as they had come. I was appalled at my own shallowness.
    Kristy’s father appeared behind her; he must have been behind the elevator door to hold it open.
    “Julie, what a nice surprise!” he said. I could see it was a lie. Kristy said nothing.
    I nodded and asked if I could help hold open the door. I think Kristy winced, but Mr. Gupta said yes. Logistically, it was difficult for him to keep the elevator open and roll Kristy inside. I slipped past her and pushed against the door. Once inside the elevator I saw that Kristy was now facing the back wall, looking in the opposite direction from me. It was a relief. The truth was, I was shocked at how small she seemed, as if, rather than grow taller, she had actually done the reverse and shrunk. Her black pigtails, the only growing thing about her, fell down the back of the wheelchair, and I was glad not to have to meet her eyes again.
    Mr. Gupta tried to make conversation. “And how is your new school?” he asked. “Your mother tells me it is very, very good.”
    “Oh yes,” I said. “I really like it.”
    “That is very good, Julie,” he said. “I am so happy for you.”
    I didn’t believe him. It felt like he was wondering: why was my daughter the one to get sick? Why not this girl instead?
    “Thank you,” I said and looked down at the floor.
    “Isn’t that very nice, Kristy?” Mr. Gupta continued. She muttered something, but it was so soft that I could not understand her. “Yes,” said Mr. Gupta. “We are very happy for you.”
    The elevator made its customary gulping noise as it passed each floor. There was a pained silence after Mr. Gupta’s last comment, and I wondered which floor we had just passed, prayed it was two, that the next floor was the Guptas’. Mr. Gupta continued his strained attempt at a smile, looking outward through the small window in the elevator door, while Kristy remained motionless in her wheelchair. I tried desperately to think of something to say, but the obvious questions (So how are you doing, Kristy? What have you been up to lately?) were patently ridiculous. So we remained in our creaking, elevator-gulping silence. The back of Kristy’s motionless head felt like a kind of reproof to me, a condemnation of the snow on my pants and jacket, my ruddy cheeks, the toboggan rolled up under my right arm. I told myself that this moment would be over soon enough, and I resolved from then on never to take the elevator but always the stairs.
    When the elevator reached three, I slid out so I could hold open the door. Mr. Gupta thanked me profusely and told me to send his greetings to my parents and sister. I said I would. Kristy focused directly ahead of her as Mr. Gupta pulled the wheelchair out backward. She did not wish me good-bye; she did not say anything. After they were safely in the hallway, I slipped back into the elevator and reached the fifth floor without further adventure. I bounded out, tossed off my boots by the stairwell, then entered the apartment. My mother must have heard me in the hallway, for she was waiting, spreading newspapers on the floor to prevent the snow from making puddles. Our dog Danny, meanwhile, was jumping all over me, pushing aside the newspapers, wagging his tail. The room was warm and quiet. My mother asked if I wanted a nice cup of hot chocolate, and I nodded. When she asked me if I had had fun, I again nodded. I did not mention my encounter with Kristy, nor did I pass on her father’s greetings. The simple fact of the matter was, I forgot. My mind—so guilt ridden one moment—was suddenly filled with important and exciting plans for the rest of the day: the TV shows I would watch, the bead jewelry I would make, the snacks I would eat, the chapters of The Silmarillion I would read.
    Three years later Kristy died. I went to the funeral at St. Margaret’s Church at 261st and Riverdale Avenue, right by the city line. Amy Gupta was silent, walking in measured, solemn steps behind the casket on the way out of the church. John Gupta, by contrast, was roaring with grief; I have never heard anything like it. Not before. Not since. It was something beyond rationality, an expression of pain so deep and primal that it resisted categorization; it was the pain of the world, in all its terrible sufferings, made manifest in this one voice. Later, Amy told my mother that it was a relief—Kristy was ready to die. It had been dragging on and on, and now that it was over, they could continue their lives again. My mother kept looking at me while she told me this, studying me for a reaction. A part of me wanted to perform one for her—tears, weeping, grief—but I could not muster it. I would like to say Kristy’s death had been so long in coming that I had already grieved her loss. The awful truth of it was, however, that I was simply so absorbed in my own life, its unfoldings and promises and anxieties, that I had no room to mourn hers. Indeed, all I felt, if I am to be completely honest, was gratitude. I was glad it was Kristy and not me who had died.

Several years after that, before my parents retired and moved out of New York City, I returned to the building for a visit from the West Coast and once again ran into John Gupta in the elevator.
    “Hello, Julie!” he said. “Julie, tell me how graduate school is. Your mother has told me all about it; you are studying for your PhD, no? That is good, very good!”
    I nodded and said yes, thoroughly annoyed with my mother for bragging about my so-called accomplishments. It was true; I was studying for my PhD in comparative literature, but with lukewarm dedication at best. “Julie,” he said, repeating my name as he always did whenever we used to talk. “I have some very good news. Jamie has had a baby and she is in the apartment now. Would you like to see her?”
    I said yes—Jamie was Kristy’s older sister, whom I had idolized when I was a child—and followed Mr. Gupta out of the elevator on the third floor. For the first time in over fifteen years, I entered 3g. Still the old smells of curry and frying oil, cumin, coriander, cilantro. Mr. Gupta led me into the living room. Jamie was sitting there on the couch, her arms folded around a tiny baby girl, only a few weeks old. She looked up at me and said, “Hi Julie,” in the same casual way she used when she was the teenager I so admired.
    I peered down at the baby. “What’s her name?” I asked.
    “Kristy,” Jamie said.
    My head jerked slightly, as if someone had just tugged my ponytail.
    “She looks like Kristy, does she not?” Mr. Gupta asked me.
    I bent down, trying to hide my reaction to Kristy’s name. I realized then that I still carried around a sense of guilt, the feeling that I had betrayed Kristy somehow by being healthy, young, and self-absorbed, by growing up and leaving the neighborhood for a shallow and fruitless dream. As I experienced this I studied the baby’s features. For a moment I caught a glimpse of Kristy—the same deep, thoughtful expression—and crazy though it sounds, I thought I saw forgiveness there.
    I stood up and saw that Mr. Gupta was still waiting for an answer. I told him I saw the resemblance. He looked pleased. I remained a couple more minutes while Mr. Gupta hovered over the new mother and daughter, happier than I had seen him in years. Then I thanked them both and left.

Julie T. Anderson lives and teaches in Berkeley, California. ‘‘Snow Day’’ is her second published essay; her first appeared in To-Do List Magazine. She enjoys reading ancient Chinese poetry and speaking Mandarin, and she hopes to return to China next summer to do research for her novel-in-progress.

“Snow Day: Memories of Growing Up in the Bronx” appears in our Summer 2006 issue.