Step by Step

Folk dancing spins connections.

Bill Buford plays music and calls dances at Bethany Music and Dance. Photo by Cuchulain Kelly. Four years after I hold Bill Fischer’s hand for the first time, he learns my name. “Dana? Diane?” He asks. Bill’s hand grips a microphone. He is calling a contra dance—a style of group folk dance—in the barn attached to his house. It is one of his monthly parties, which require no invitation, called “Bethany Music and Dance”—BMAD for short. His fuzzy blond dreadlocks, dotted and decorated with beads. . . Read more
Diana Saverin
High Water

Over the course of three days, the author fasts, drinks, and hikes into the feet of the Sierras.

I might have had fifteen dollars after I paid the train fare. I surely didn’t have enough for a four-day road trip in the Sierras. But after half a summer in an office downtown, I craved pine and dark earth, laurel and thrush. For three days I hardly ate. Beer served as my bread, my meat, and my milk. Fasts, I’d been told, clarify the mind, channeling streams of thought into a single still pool. At Modesto, my friend Abby* and I descended from the. . . Read more
Juliana Hanle
Love, at First Sight

Literary flings for an intern in the city.

Sometime during the second or third week of your publishing internship, your boss swivels away from her monitor and asks, “How do you feel about romance?” You don’t feel anything anymore. You have been photocopying foreign contracts for days, and this has made you numb. Peering meekly from behind a fortress of overstuffed manila files, you repeat, inanely, “Romance?” Her gaze has already returned to her email. “Yeah. Regency.” You do feel something about this genre; some might call it “antipathy.” While you grope for. . . Read more
Sophia Nguyen

A student pedals across Connecticut one fine day.

It’s already past 10 a.m., but campus is silent on a Sunday morning. The overcast sky is the color of cream of wheat, and clouds linger placidly overhead. The cool November air feels too sleepy to stir, and there’s not a hint of a breeze. I’m anxious to get on the road to my aunt’s home in Simsbury, Connecticut and the Massachusetts border, but haste would upset the composure of the moment. Then again, I have a 112-mile day in front of me. I’d been. . . Read more
Nicholas Geiser

Hallucinating terrifying new worlds in a schizophrenia lab.

Lights pulse in my peripheral vision. My eyes invent blobby white images, reluctant to give in to the darkness. No sound. Cold skin. Suddenly a wave of sensation, a slow prickling sweat that creeps through my torso, my face, my scalp. Then the nausea hits. I feel I’m going to retch, but at the same time I don’t know what part of my body I’d retch with. My only awareness is discomfort. As the sensation slowly disappears, so do I. I experience death in a. . . Read more
Jesse Bradford
On Height and Hiding

Remembering what it was like to stand tall, but walk small.

Walking tall. At six feet five inches, I am an abnormally tall man. And therefore, I can expect the world to treat me pretty well.  If the numerous studies on the subject can be trusted, I am, by virtue of my dimensions, likely to ascend my career ladder rapidly and attain a senior leadership position. Women on dating websites will seek me out. The style pages of Details and Esquire will continue to feature fashion tips geared toward reshaping vertically challenged men in my image:. . . Read more
Cory Finley
Baring All

The naked truth about nude modeling.

I started taking my clothes off for money when I was eighteen. In my first year of college at Cambridge, I was trying on some personality traits, throwing off others, always to make an impression. I’d march off to sessions with borrowed bathrobes, cheerfully passing friends and letting them know where I was going. I was proud of this new hobby and all that it entailed: my body, my confidence, my difference. From the earliest days to what is now my fifth year of modeling,. . . Read more
Charlotte Kingston

A brother, a sister, and the game of LIFE.

Austin stared straight past the Rolos, Snickers, and Skittles at the New York City subway map taped to the newsstand window. When I called to him, he merely blinked and continued tracing the map’s lines with his eyes. I took his hand and tried to pull him down Third Avenue, but he dug in his heels and screeched. Reaching into my pocket, I fished out two quarters and plonked them on the counter. “Here you go, Columbus,” the vendor joked as he slid Austin a. . . Read more
Haley Cohen
Night Drive

A father and his daughter drive down Arizona’s roads.

Six biomes. Jacque Feldman The thing to do in my hometown, if it was a weekend and you weren’t old enough to drive, was a movie at the local mall. You might grab a slice of pizza first, but in any case, you needed a ride. Usually, the responsibility for my friends and me fell to Julia’s dad, a quiet guy with a moustache and thick glasses. Over the course of many ten-minute drives, he became privy to all the conspiracy theories and crushes that. . . Read more
Jacqueline Feldman
When I Grow Up

Yale opens many doors, but doesn’t help us pick.

A fork in the road on Old Campus. Perhaps I will be a teacher when I grow up. I taught this summer—and it was wonderful. There was Ryder, who’s tiny, and writes with neat handwriting, and Jenna, who walks that fine line between popular and kind. There’s Raheem, who, at eleven years old, is an adorable lump, and Jorge, who doesn’t know how to be cool, who has the most earnest eyes and the most staggering optimism. When you’re a teacher, each day brings rollicking. . . Read more
Kate Selker