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The Sun Magazine

Family and Relationships

Pregnancy and Childbirth

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

Ways To Show Affection

The cold morning wind clings to my skin like a tangled bedsheet, following me in the door from Lafayette Street and through the metal detector. The heat isn’t working in the clinic waiting room. A bronze bust of Margaret Sanger, patron saint of birth control, scrutinizes me from a plaster podium, and a slide show, Ways to Show Affection without Intercourse, is projected half on a pull-down screen and half on the cottage-cheese ceiling. There are no empty seats, so I stand among the teenagers, who are still wearing their oversized coats and avoiding eye contact, while a security officer with a shaved head presides over us with a list of names: Tiphanie, Lindsay, Keisha. You young ladies can go on back now. No, you can’t take anyone with you. The third way to show affection without intercourse is cuddling, but the man I’m with isn’t holding my hand. I’m out of place because of my pale skin and my jewelry; he’s out of place because of his gray hair.

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

A Night Of Falling Alone

“Son, will you come downstairs, please.” He has pulled a chair up to the couch in the living room. We never use this room. The Christmas tree is placed in here each year. I would read in here as a child. That’s it. I sit on the couch and sink down. He sits straight up in the chair, his graying black hair combed back. His eyes soften. Like the sails on a boat, they offer a telltale sign of which way the wind is blowing and how strong. This afternoon, in the fading light of day, they tell me he is tired.