My Stint at the Convent

This story is about my experience living in the Mother House of an order of nuns while I taught a ten-day seminar to nearby hard science professors from three universities about the writing process. The course was a rousing success. My life in the convent, not so much. "It's like being at summer camp. It's on a lake. I went there last week. The food was great." That's how the coordinator from UC Berkeley sold me on ten days in a convent. The taxi halted in front of an old, stone ivy-covered building that was four or five stories tall. This certainly didn't look like any summer camp I had been to. The place looked deserted. I had to haul two pullman suitcases, packed with books and clothing, up twenty or so stone steps. As I fought open the massive wooden door, one of my suitcases fell. "Damn," I muttered, stooping to retrieve the errant strap. Rising, I saw a huge crucifix attached to the wall. Oops. Crisp footsteps sounded on the highly polished wooden floor. I looked to my right. Nothing. "Welcome, my child." I swung to the left. "Uh, yes. Excuse me." I had caught the skirt of her habit with my suitcase. Yes, some nuns still wear habits, particularly in their…



Tightly gripping her father’s muscled arm, waiting for the music to change, she stood in the vestibule of the church. His tender smile floated down to her upturned eyes as he patted the long-fingered hand that wrapped itself around his forearm. Her body, held in check, waited. Her mind raced.That first kiss, after her seventeenth birthday. The joy of a long-waited-for boyfriend and the smugness of being squired around campus by the captain of both the football and the wrestling team. Learning how to surf tandem, in his way-too-big wetsuit so her parents wouldn’t find out. The senior prom. The images reeled by as tiny frames on a silent film screen in her mind.Her brown eyes closed, squeezing off tears before they could be recognized. Her carefully-shaped coral lips thinned, pressed together in the tiniest smile, silently calling his name for her, his Pink Fairy Princess. Sometimes the address on his letters to her bore this instead of her name, a remembrance of the willowy pink chiffon and satin prom formal. She should have addressed his with Harachi. Monty had tried to upset her that night by wearing his tuxedo with sandals made from a tire.Her father patted the hand that had a stranglehold on his arm. He probably was thinking about the worry…


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