10 Things You Might Not Know About Salem, MA

10. You don’t have to ride your broomstick there. Particularly if it’s busted like ours. You can also get there by ferry.
9. You can buy a lot of goth-ey things in Salem. It might even be the Goth Merch Capital of the World.
8. There are a lot of well-kept colonial homes there. I think each one comes with its own ghost.
7. The pedicabs are orange. Orange like pumpkins. I thought they were orange because that’s all IKEA is showing these days.
6. The Authentic Mexican restaurant plays a lot of funk music. With no sense of irony.
5. If the LCD screen on your digital camera stops operating while you are screwing up your nose in front of the “Bewitched” statue, it’s probably not the work of a witch’s spell. It’s probably because your husband dropped the camera and you should just forgive him as soon as possible. Or a wicked witch might curse you.
4. Everything sort of shuts down there around 4p.m. on a Sunday. You should have gotten the earlier ferry back.
3. Or you’ll be stuck in Salem.
2. In the rain.
1. Which is not really as much fun. Especially if you suddenly got old because you had a baby. But at least the ferry ride back will be delightful with your mohawk baby.

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College Reunion

They’ll give you your room assignment. Fourth floor of Brooks. You’ll think, oh goodie. I’m coming back to college for reunion, but this time I have a husband and a baby, and still, no elevator. But then you’ll climb those hallowed concrete steps and the smells will smack of RA rounds and all-nighters and microwave popcorn and homesick girls, their heads wrapped in towels, crying on cordless phones. This is why they put you on the fourth floor. So you could remember a thousand and one nights living in this building, with the ghosts of your memory playing out before you in between these pastel walls.

You were so happy here. This is the place, this campus resplendent with charming brick buidings, rhododendrons, lamp posts that, when lit on a winter’s night, make snow banks glisten. Friends all within one small checkerboard of space. A culture in which everyone was busy, engaged, but never too busy to stop and engage in talk of weekends and newspaper articles and which dining hall to avoid that night. How could you not be so happy here?

This is the place, this slowly sloping hill in this tiny little hamlet where you never saw such sunsets. This is the place where you awakened, where you, your gift, and the world’s need seemed to collide. Where you decided, I have to be a writer or I will forfeit everything, or perhaps just forfeit this one small thing I have to offer.

You have so many souvenirs from this place, although the important ones are hard to hold in your hand. Some of them are too distant, some too abstract, and some are the fruits of other souvenirs. Fortunately, the heart is very big, which makes carrying them all somehow possible.

***

You will always be my first RA hall.

You will always be my first RA room.

You will always be my mailbox.

You will always be a postcard.

You will always be my greatest souvenir (and she will always be my best byproduct).

You will always be the happiest place on earth.

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