“Oh dear,” Ann Patchett said upon first laying eyes on me. I had just pulled into her driveway after finishing the second leg of a trip that had squeezed me from the crush of Manhattan’s deadlock traffic all the way to Nashville, Tennessee. I would like to say the hours flew by, given that I was going to meet one of my heroes—that as the billboards flipbooked from ads for storage units to ones for porn and God, mountains cropped up in my peripheral vision, all blue at dusk. But anyone who romanticizes road trips has clocked more hours reading travel books than actually driving. The truth is that [...]
I was asleep on the overnight train from Carbondale to Chicago, dreaming about snuggling with my boyfriend, Sam. I awoke to find myself reaching for my seatmate—a newly released convict who did not want to snuggle.
“No,” he said, crossing his arms. I knew he was a former inmate from his grey sweatpants, matching t-shirt, and prison-issued sneakers. The Pinckneyville Correctional Center is halfway between Southern Illinois and Union Station. The midnight train is the cheapest option for shipping freed men north.
He shook his head. “I don’t cuddle.”
“Sorry,” I mumbled. It seemed pointless to explain that I’d thought he was my boyfriend of one [...]