When we returned from South Africa, my mother got a job at an ad agency in New York City, where she had worked before, and we left Wisconsin. We stayed for a few months with my mother’s college friend and her family in a house in New Jersey. I started first grade there, walking to school with her friend’s daughters, carrying my pretty new white Alice in Wonderland lunchbox. I made friends with a little Japanese girl, whose name I don’t remember, but it doesn’t matter because not too long after she celebrated my birthday with me, we moved to an apartment in Manhattan, and I started a new first grade.
The first night in our new apartment, it was just me and my mother and the few things we’d brought in our suitcase from Wisconsin to New Jersey to New York. It was late, and dark, we arrived, so there was nothing to do except go to sleep, sharing the large mattress she’d put in the center of the barren room.