In high school I was friends with two girls, Ida Kowalchuk and Fiona Petrowsky. Ida and Fiona had known each other since elementary, and shortly after I entered their lives the three of us became thick as thieves. Wherever we went, whatever we did, it was always as a trio. But Ida and I shared something undeniably special. We clicked from the get-go, as they say, while Fiona—a quiet, diffident girl, boringly polite—slowly moved from center stage to the darkened corners of the background. Read more.
When I was sixteen, I took organ lessons from a dour, quick-tempered, talented British man named Mr. Williams. No one else I’ve known, either before or since, was as self-sacrificing for his instrument. Nor as old-fashioned. In the nine or so months I was his student, I never saw him dressed in anything other than a three-piece suit that had long gone out of style, a tie with what appeared to be a school crest on it, and horn-rimmed glasses dating back to the Kennedy administration. A gold cross was invariably pinned to his lapel. He was the only man I knew who still used Brylcreem in his hair, so much so that it looked like a solid, shiny mass. Not that he was an especially old man. Rather, he seemed ageless somehow, as if caught outside of time, belonging neither to the present nor to some earlier era. Read more.