A True Story

We met on a dating app and had texted and Face-timed for a couple weeks. Not obsessively, but things were going well. We decided to finally meet up in-person. I decided to drive down to see her, about a 45 minute drive south.

Scene I: day before the date

Her: I know a great Pakistani place. A co-worker recommended it to me. Wanna go?

Me: Totally! That would be great. I haven’t had Pakistani food in forever.

Her: Perfect. Let’s check it out!

Me: Fantastic! I’ll text you when I’m out of work.

Scene II: day of the date


Photo by MICHAEL CHIARA on Unsplash

And when I turned
tail I found myself
again, in a different room in another city
filled with tight spirals of days,
with windows shooting out
from towers looming
above sidewalks.


My heart broken, I ran barefoot on dirty sidewalks with long nails,
scratched my name into anything
soft. I pressed my ear against Coney Island and listened
to the sound mermaids make.
I waited.

I tried to understand the days that brought me to the ocean.

I moved.

I forgot. I remembered.

I forget.

I used to feel older than I was.
I can't tell you
how old…

Than the Summers I Lived in Brooklyn — Free Verse

Photo by Nelson Ndongala on Unsplash

I have never been hotter
than the summers I lived
in Brooklyn.

My 4th floor walk-up with no AC.
The lobby vibrating with heat,
the first floor family draped across the space under the stairwell,
listening to music that drifted upward
but not too far. Nothing, no one, moved
too much. All the walls were sticky,
the banister caked with decades of sweat, the black and white entryway
tiles hallucinatory.

I remember waking from sleep that felt exactly like a fever
three, four times in a single night,
stumbling to the claw foot tub,
taking ice cold showers,
just long enough so I quit…

Photo by Andre Benz on Unsplash

She tried to look into every temple, every church, and every synagogue as she walked by. She didn’t peek in, or stop, or even slow down. She just looked and felt happy if there was a window she could see into or if there was a door slowly shutting so she could see a closing column of inside.

It was February, and too cold. She had forgotten her hat and her ears were freezing. She had burnt her tongue that morning on coffee, and it was the only part of her that felt warm.

She looked at the ornate wooden…

Photo by Amanda Jones on Unsplash

I do not understand
where people find time,
I honestly
do not get it.

Are they staying up late? That must
be it, that has to be it. God!
I’m such a monster, I can’t
stay up late at all. Anything past
11 and I drift into mild hallucinations.
How do they do it?
Maybe they wait for sleep to come, patiently, organically,
and in the in-between
they do it, all of it, anything they want,
in extra pockets of time,
folded up. Like a candy in a tied up corner of a handkerchief:

Me? I’m too impatient.
I don’t…

Photo by Feliphe Schiarolli on Unsplash

For a little less than a calendar year, I worked for Uncommon Schools in Troy, NY. If you haven’t heard of it, it is one of the larger and more well-known charter school networks in the United States. They currently have 54 schools, from elementary to high school, with 20,000 enrolled students in six different cities in the Northeast. Located in cities like Boston, Camden, Rochester, and Troy, the schools typically serve populations of “low income students.” According to Uncommon’s website, these schools are places where “every student feels truly loved and cared for, learning is both rigorous and joyful…

Photo by Valentin Petkov on Unsplash

I had friends, a few of them, but I had much more time on my own, and I was fine with it. Happy to be alone, in fact. I focused on animal figurines; I never cared for dolls. One day, I cleared all the books out of one set of built-in shelves and created a makeshift house. Ponies, upright bears, rabbits, and animals of all kinds populated the shelves. They rolled gobstoppers up and down the shelves and created a pulley system with a toy bucket for moving the candies up and down levels. Most often, I talked to myself…

leigh vandebogart

Educator and writer in Central NY. I believe in public education and collecting things that are beautiful and/or useful.

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