June’s in town, brown-shouldered and bare-legged, with a butterfly
Pered in Her Hair. She sips a frozen drink while she floats in an inflatable beach toy and flirts with the lifeguard.
She has a friend with a
pool pass, the loan of a beach house, and leaving work early on her mind.
the icing on the wedding cake, the biggest hat in the church, the starch in the flower girl’s sash.
She’s the rainbow and water
cocktail served by lawn sprinklers and the marriage song the bee hums to its flower.
She’s the honeysuckle breath
that whispers news of lawn parties, long twilights and the possibility of love striking you like summer lightning.
June is the
destination we dreamed of in winter, the ticket to Somewhere Warm far from the North Face Pole, the sunset that blooms like a hibiscus over a tropical island.
Now boarding—all rows, all zones. Cover art by Julia Breckenreid
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Let’s have a
Vagina Dialogue! The baby’s arrived! But things definitely aren’t back to normal. Help!
Q. I had my baby 2 weeks ago and am still having some bleeding. Is this normal, and how long will this last? A. Bleeding or “lochia” is normal following the birth of your baby. It is the body and uterus’s way of “cleansing” the tissues from the pregnancy. Bleeding can vary and last from as little as a week for some women, to as much as 6 weeks for others. Sometimes, bleeding may increase slightly when you return home, especially if you are active (climbing the stairs with the baby several times per day, lifting baby several times, walking longer distances). Make sure you take some time to rest and allow your body to heal. Contact the Doctor if discharge is foul smelling, or unusual, or if you are soaking more than 1 pad per hour. Q. My, baby is 3 months old and I am having problems leaking urine when I cough, sneeze or laugh too hard. Is this normal? Is there anything I can do about it? A. Urine leakage can be a normal part of pregnancy and the time immediately following the birth of your baby. This is due to increased pressure from the weight of the fetus on the bladder and pelvic floor, as well as stretching of the pelvic floor during delivery of the baby. However, urine loss that persists more than 6-8 weeks after delivery is NOT normal and should be talked about with your doctor. You may need to see a Physical Therapist who can instruct you in exercises to help with the leakage. The earlier you start the exercises, the better your chances of getting rid of the leakage will be! Q. The doctor cleared me to have sex again, but it is so painful that I am not able to enjoy it. Why am I having pain with sex? What can I do about it? A. Pain during intercourse can be caused by many things. During vaginal delivery, pelvic muscles and tissues are stretched and may even tear. This takes a minimum of 6-8 weeks to properly heal. During this time you may notice some discomfort with intercourse as your tissues are healing which should improve with time. If you are breastfeeding your baby, this also causes your hormone levels to change, which can lead to dryness and thinning of the vaginal tissues. This can cause discomfort during intercourse. Once you are finished nursing, your hormone levels will return to previous and this discomfort also goes away. Lastly, if you had an episiotomy or tearing during childbirth, you may notice pain towards the back of the vaginal wall during penetration where scar tissue has developed. A Physical Therapist may be needed to help with scar tissue massage and minimize pain in this area.
Our Women’s Health Program is available to be of benefit to you before, during, and after your pregnancy. Email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Confessions of a Traveling Homebody
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Big Dreams, Small World
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june [ the destination issue ]
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cover artist Julia Breckenreid’s
the destination issue As I write this, I’ll be leaving for Seattle in a few days to take care of my
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so that I wouldn’t have to find my way to their different schools twice a day.
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from the editor In my early twenties, I was living in the Big Apple in a one-bedroom apartment with four other girls, all wannabe models/actresses. Half-starved and crazy as only five girls in a shoebox can be, occasionally we’d combine rent money and splurge on something really necessary like a jaunt in a limo. One summer, we managed to scrounge up enough cash to rent a red-hot convertible for an impromptu road trip down south. Destination: My cousin Steve’s wedding in Georgia. Top down, we had an exceptional time speeding down I-95. Since all available funds went toward gas, when we arrived unannounced at the reception thirteen hours later, we devoured everything in sight. Cousin Steve seemed unruffled, but I don’t know that his wife Paula has ever forgiven me. I vaguely recall the return trip not being quite as fun—something along the lines of a flat tire plus a ride through the South of the Border carwash, top still down. Back at the shoebox, we regaled our friends with our exploits…until we had to hide on the fire escape from our rent-seeking landlord à la Holly Golightly. Enjoy other memorable journeys and destinations in this issue!
skir t. c
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dearskirt! Thanks so much for featuring my
Woodruff Road Animal Hospital
Vintage Garden necklaces in the May issue of skirt! in your “we love” section! I truly do enjoy reading skirt!
Thanks for a great, quality magazine that inspires me daily. I’ve been following you on Facebook for about a month, and before that have been reading your printed magazine for about a year. Seeing so many strong role models—women who are strong, creative, and driven—in your pages has helped me to be brave enough to strike out of the box. Thanks for a great, quality magazine that inspires me daily. Jennifer Westmoreland Winston-Salem, NC
and I’m so thankful to have it here in Greenville. All the best, Lily Stratton Greenville, SC lilypottery.com
I was just wondering how I could submit some information for the He’s So Original section of your fabulous publication? Vaughn Bethell changes lives every day by helping people understand and strive for a healthy lifestyle. He has also contributed immensely to the Greenville community, including providing physical education programs to the Boys Home of the South, and the St. Anthony’s Catholic School, both
skirt! always helps me out. Every month I learn about new places to visit, great businesses in the Charlotte area, and stories of people from all over. However, this month skirt! did something new
free of charge. I hope you’ll consider Vaughn for skirt!—he’s definitely one-of-a-kind! Jodi Hudgins Greenville, SC
for me—skirt! inspired my wardrobe
[ed. note: Check out Vaughn in this
for the month of May. I looked closely
at the beautiful artwork displayed on the front cover. The blue first caught my eye as I thought, “this reminds me of my cardigan from Target!” The yellow flowers reminded me of my yellow flower bracelet. Pretty soon I was in my closet making outfits. This was the first time a work of art influenced my clothes. I am always amazed by the art on the front cover, but this month
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was bursting with inspiration. The May
Our services include: • • • • • •
Preventative & Wellness care for Pets of All Ages Pet Dentistry • Surgery Home Again® microchips available Behavioral Assessments and Training Convenient drop-off service available New Advanced Digital Radiography We are pleased to announce that we are servicing avian and exotic species effective June 14, 2010. extended office hours Monday and Thursday, 7:30 AM to 7:00 PM For appointments please call (864)234-5995.
Laser Therapy can help treat your pet for pain associated with the neck, back, arthritis or injury. It also assists with the healing of wounds and hotspots. “PuPPY PlAY And leArn” Weekly early education classes for puppies up to 12 weeks of age.
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artwork is now displayed in my closet. I matched up paint samples to make the colors stand out even more. Can’t wait to dress for May and be “Stylin’ with skirt!.” I think I will just carry
Reservations are required, so please call Woodruff Road Animal Hospital to schedule an appointment for you and your new puppy today.
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Monday and Thursday 7:30 am to 7:00 pm Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday 7:30 am to 6:00 pm
Andrea Leigh Noles Belmont, NC
I loved the essay by Elizabeth Shipley
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Have an opinion? Email email@example.com. All letters to the editor must include the writer’s name and city/state.
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It’s A Night of Hollywood! The Upstate’s finest musical performers will transform the Greenville Little Theatre into an evening of glitz, glamour and old Hollywood entertainment at the 2010 GLT Gala. greenvillelittletheatre.org
Travel experts advise buying your summer flight to Europe by midJune at the latest. Scoop deals on one of our favorite sites, farecompare.com
Love Summer Traveling? Women-owned businesses contribute $3 billion to the national economy.
7 Starting today and running through August, dance classes in shagging, South Carolina’s state dance, will be offered by Ballet Spartanburg at the Chapman Cultural Center. Singles welcome, partners always available. 583.0339
Chris Daughtry’s Arena Tour rolls into Clemson with special guests Lifehouse and Cavo. daughtryofficial.com
About 14 million adolescent girls become pregnant each year, with over 90% of those girls living in developing countries.
If you’re eating for two or have two for the eating, join the Blockhouse Restaurant for 2 for 1 Appetizers every Tuesday! blockhouse.net
Catch Seinfeld Live at the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium. crowdpleaser.com
Join Centre Stage for Driving Miss Daisy, a warm-hearted, humorous and affecting study of the unlikely relationship between an aging, crotchety white Southern lady, and a proud, softspoken black man. centrestage.org
The Blue Ridge Barbecue & Music Festival in Tryon, NC is also one of the most popular sanctioned barbecue competitions in the United States. blueridgebbqfestival.com
20 Grab your binoculars for Summer Birding Guided Bird Walk at Chimney Rock. chimneyrockpark.com
Happy Father’s Day!
Can’t get to the beach? Get a taste of the ocean every Monday in Greer when The Great Bay Oyster House offers 1/2 price steamed oysters! thegreat bayoysterhouse.com
Batter Up! This is the first time that Fluor Field will host the league's mid-summer classic, the 2010 SAL All-Star Game, which also coincides with the Greenville Drive's 5th Anniversary Season! greenvilledrive.com
Bring your lawn chairs and a picnic supper to the Reedy River Nighttime Concert Series, a variety of free musical concerts featuring jazz, country, patriotic, rock & roll, blues and reggae. greenvillesc.gov
Do you want to go on holiday to learn, do, help or make instead of just dragging around one more ruin or museum? National Geographic’s The 100 Best Worldwide Vacations to Enrich Your Life has something for everyone, from arts and crafts to volunteer vacations to wellness retreats.
“There are only two emotions in a plane: boredom and terror.” Orson Welles Junew2010greenville
11-20 Once upon a time... there was Sleeping Beauty, a classic favorite about a princess who pricks her finger on and falls into an enchanted sleep to be awakened only by true love’s kiss. scchildrenstheatre.org
Amadeus is the modern classic about music, passion and jealousy that will have you on the edge of your seat, showing through July 3. warehousetheatre.com
T R AV E L T I P
For a fun and affordable evening of games, inflatables, food and fireworks, don’t miss the 10th annual CDS (Center for Developmental Services) Fun Fest at Fluor Field. cdservices.org
Use Anne Lamott’s idea of a God Box (or Universe Box) and start writing down unmanageable situations that drive you crazy or need a decision, put them in the box and forget about it. Maybe you’ll be surprised.
Olivia Rae James makes unique cake stands out of antique and thrift shop finds. Each one is unique, and all are sweetly priced. Great wedding gifts for friends who value handmade. oliviaraejames.etsy. com
Every Thursday the Greenville County Museum of Art stays open until 8pm offering a range of special 4-26 Don’t miss one of events and programs the greatest musicals for any taste. It's a cool, comfortable way of all time—Rodgers & Hammerstein's to spend some time! Oklahoma! greenvillemuseum.org greenvillelittletheatre.org
Join Enterprise Launch for a Business Community & Development Event: "What's Stopping You? Mastering Your Personal Constraints" with guest speaker Dennis McIntee. enterpriselaunch.com
For interactive theater and “history that just won’t stay in a book,” head to downtown Greenville for the Chautauqua Festival. greenvillechautauqua.org
25-26 For only $5, enjoy late night comedy Improv from the Distracted Globe at the Warehouse Theatre! warehousetheatre.com
Essie`s Haute as Hello is anything but a coy coral.
Headed to the World Cup June 11th? Stop by Wacky Wine Weekend June 3-6, in the Robertson Wine Valley, South Africa.
5 The barbershop harmony chorus, The Palmetto Statesmen, will present their 46th annual show—The Times of Our Lives. For tickets, call 877.1352 or 542.ARTS. It’s National Trails & Land Trust Day at Chimney Rock. chimneyrockpark.com Grab your bike for the Miracle Hill Cycling Challenge and help raise funds for Miracle Hill Ministries. miraclehill.org/cycling Granata's Catering & Kitchen Studio is the ultimate place to come and play with food, offering cooking classes, wine dinners, interactive chef dinners, corporate team building and more! granatascatering.com
Head for the finish line to raise money for the Caine Halter YMCA at the Caine Halter Family YMCA Triathlon. setupevents.com The Candlelight Run is the 14th Annual 5k run and fundraiser for the Greenville Junior Chamber Foundation. candlelightrun.com
Coming to the Peace Center this month: Salaam-E-Ishq a Bollywood-style Indian love story, banjo playing Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers, and crooner Harry Connick, Jr. peacecenter.org
Give summer a one-two punch with Knockout Pout.
Celebrate summer with a pedicure!
Traci Daberko is an illustrator and graphic designer in Seattle, WA. See her work at daberkodesign.com.
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“Bring me a bucket!”
ockroaches and diarrhea welcomed me to life in the land of chaos and kinship, war and welcome, Somalia. “Kill it!” Trisha said. “How?” I asked. “Step on it.” I gulped. If I stomped on the bug, cockroach guts would splat onto my ankles. Trisha waited impatiently, her hands on her hips. “It’s my first day in Somalia,” I said. “I need twenty-four hours before I start squishing bugs.” I stepped gingerly over the roach. “You step on it.” I had, subconsciously, expected the morning in Boroma to be quiet. No traffic sounds, no refrigerators humming or fans whirring. But the sounds of village life swept in through our screened windows before the sun peeked over the mountains. The neighbor’s rooster crowed and their house worker chanted children’s poetry as she gathered a handful of brown eggs. A water cart rattled past the house, the donkey braying in protest as the water man slapped its hind legs. A fight broke out between wild dogs scavenging among the cacti and thorn bushes. With a high-pitched yelp, a urine-yellow female, teats heavy with milk, limped away from the carcass of a dead cat. She watched the other dogs devour the meal and licked her front paw. Over the animal cacophony came the deep, clear song of the muezzin, calling faithful Muslims to prayer, reminding them that prayer is better than sleep. I drank in the sounds, then turned from the window and glanced at the cement floor. A cockroach-shaped skeleton lay where Trisha had stomped, the only remaining evidence of last night’s visitor. During the night, ants had meticulously cleaned the bones, the last of them still carrying pieces of cockroach flesh into miniscule holes in the wall. Halima, our house worker, swept the skeleton into a broken dustpan without flinching. She laughed as Trisha recounted the story of the night before and I felt my face grow hot. If I wanted to befriend a people who didn’t blink at the sound of machine gun bursts, I would have to begin stepping on insects. Fadouma dipped a rusting metal cup into the tall blue cooler and handed me a glass of water. The cooler sat in the middle of her courtyard, uncovered. Flecks of dirt, drowned mosquitoes and pieces of string floated on top of the dark water. “Drink it,” she said. Fadouma was the first neighbor to invite me into her home and despite our struggle to communicate, a friendship developed. Today, as a welcome into Somali culture, Fadouma and her sister Hodan wanted to paint henna on my hands and feet. We sat on low planks of wood for an hour, waiting for Hodan to bring the supplies from the market and Fadouma assumed I was thirsty. “I can’t drink it,” I said and rubbed my stomach. “Drink it,” she insisted. I mimed drinking the water, running and vomiting. The smile faded from Fadouma’s face. “Drink it. It’s cold, so it won’t make you sick.” I glanced from the rusty cup to the blue cooler to my new friend and obeyed. As I put the cup to my lips, Hodan burst through the front door with a package of black hair dye. Relieved, I set the cup back on the cement floor and held my hands out to be painted. Hodan pounded water and black hair dye together, added a liquid which smelled suspiciously like kerosene, poured the mixture into a paper funnel and
drew squiggly lines over my pale skin. I realized why she had wanted to give me henna and why her sister had so quickly agreed to host me. Hodan was practicing. Rather than intricate, thin designs, I had thick black splotches. The dye plopped to the ground by my ankles. My hands started to burn and I thought about the mysterious liquid. The burn turned to a wild, mad itching. I jumped to my feet and demanded to wash off the paste. Fadouma and Hodan looked surprised, but brought their only bowl, filled it with water from the cooler and dunked my hands. The dye had already stained my skin. Puffy red patches lined the edges of the designs and hoped I wouldn’t develop burn scars. Between my house and Fadouma’s stood an elementary school. Clusters of women squatted on upside down metal cans in the shade of acacia trees, their colorful scarves flapping in the breeze like giant kites. During recess children swarmed the women, buying hard-boiled eggs, individual pieces of bubblegum, suckers and chocolate-crème cookies. The path with the fewest potholes and most maneuverable boulders led me directly in front of the women. As I walked past, careful to not roll an ankle, one of the women called out. “Naayaa, cadeey!” Hey you, white lady. I stopped and turned, tugging my red headscarf tighter around my face. “Did you ever drink camel’s milk?” the woman asked. I shook my head. “We know you’re trying to learn Somali,” she said, “and the only thing holding you back is that you have to drink camel’s milk.” “Sure,” I answered. “I’ll drink camel’s milk one day. Then, I will be fluent!” “Nasiib,” the woman said, lucky. “I have camel’s milk with me today.” “Oh, well, uh…” I stammered. “You wear our clothing, you eat our goat meat,” the woman said, “but if you want to be one of us, you must drink our milk.” “Okay,” I said. “Just a little.” The woman handed me a worn leather bag covered in green, white and red beads. I lifted the bag to my mouth, forcing away thoughts of how many other lips had touched the spout. The bag reeked of rotten milk, charcoal and animal hide. I gulped quickly and handed the bag back to the woman. She beamed and clapped. I breathed with my mouth open, wishing the air could wipe away the putrid taste. “Now you’re one of our clan!” the woman exclaimed. The elementary school bell rang and children streamed from open doorways. My stomach gurgled and I burped, drops of the fermented, unpasteurized milk bubbling up my throat to my nose. Without a word, I walked away. I began to hurry, then turned to a full sprint, lifting my cotton dress to my knees. At home, I raced past the guard and past my husband, throwing off clothes and shoes as I ran to the bathroom. “What’s the matter?” my husband called. “Bring me a bucket!” I moaned. Too late. By the time he arrived, both the toilet and the tile floor were covered with vomit and diarrhea. Somali bugs; insects, kerosene-burned hands or diarrhea? Or perhaps, as I discovered after living among Somalis for seven years, a “Somali bug” was the feeling that took root between my stomach and my heart that evoked longings to return to Boroma, city of AK-47s, no running water and unreliable electricity, because of the friendships formed. The feeling of grief at news of fresh fighting in Mogadishu. The feeling of home that floats through the windows with the aroma of incense and burning garbage. Between stomping cockroaches, burned henna hands and racing to the squatty potty, I caught the Somali Bug.
Rachel Jones has spent seven years in the Horn of Africa and currently resides in Djibouti with her husband and three children. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and her blog about family and life in Africa is trjonesfamily.blogspot.com. 14
and the living is easy!
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Cindy Cohn | Girls On the Go Cindy and husband Bruce honeymooned in Italy, experienced the tropical wonders of Hawaii and the Caribbean, and even cruised up the Intracoastal Waterway on their 52-foot Sea Ray. So when Cindy wanted to travel a little more than Bruce, she started Just Us Girls (women.meetup.com/1444), a travel group for women. “This is not a group for those who want to go off on their own,” Cindy explains. “We stay together in high-end accommodations and dine at fine restaurants. Many of our trips are planned around music, art, wine and food festivals. There are all kinds of tour groups. This is more of a ‘Ladies Night Out’ experience.” What trip is still on your wish list? “Being an animal lover, I would love to go to the Galapagos Islands where the animals don’t fear people and you can get right up close to them.” Read more at greenville.skirt.com. Photo by John Fowler
Wendy Anthony | Globally Local On a recent trip to Buenos Aires, Wendy braved tango lessons at an authentic tango bar. “An older gentleman grabbed my hands and pulled me across the floor...until an instructor walked up to me and said curtly, ‘Beginners are at the other end of the room.’” Hanging with the locals is Wendy’s travel secret and has allowed her to experience the uniqueness of Costa Rica, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and quite a bit of Europe. Wendy is also the Executive Director of the International Center of the Upstate, where she gets to meet new people from around the world every day. “It’s the next best thing to travelling!” What trip is still on your wish list? “I am eager to do an extensive trip through Africa—Liberia, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt—then on to the Middle East.” Read more at greenville.skirt.com. Photo by John Fowler • Use of Jetstar courtesy of Doug Dennison of Jet Connection
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I just wanted to go home, where I had built a life for myself in which I felt I belonged.
ou hear the story all the time, usually in feel-good novels or the Chicken Soup series: adventurous traveler wanders far and wide, only to discover a preference for home. Dorothy clicks her red shoes together and repeats her favorite mantra. Yawn. When I chose to study abroad in Spain the summer before my junior year of college, those stories weren’t the ones I had in mind. I kept hearing tales of the liberating abroad experience, of freedom found in anonymity and adoption of a less puritanical culture, the classic “time of your life” travel narrative. As the product of a middle class upbringing by wellmeaning but mildly overprotective parents, I felt more than ready to cut loose in a faraway country. I was halfway through a liberal arts degree and eager to learn new things, not just about a foreign culture but about myself as well. Always a much more dedicated student of literature in my own language than of basic conversation skills in a foreign one, I nevertheless signed on for a fullimmersion program that would place me in the home of a Spanish family (and also, most conveniently, fulfill that last nagging foreign language requirement for graduation). I then spent months eagerly awaiting my grand adventure of a summer. Only on the plane to Madrid, trapped high above the Atlantic ocean, did the weight of spending three weeks in the home of complete strangers—strangers who spoke a language that I barely knew and who understood little to no English—really sink in. By the time I stepped off that plane, I began my European personal exploration process less with a sense of freedom than with a sense of freaked, and that feeling never really left me. If the other students who had signed on for the program felt the way I did, they certainly hid it well. They seemed to shake culture shock from their shoulders with ease, every girl on the trip emerging triumphant from her chrysalis as she explored the wonders of Spanish food, Spanish nightclubs, Spanish men. Both during our few days in Madrid and our weeks in Oviedo, the northern city where we would take our language courses and live with our Spanish families, my fellow travelers absorbed as much as possible of everything Europe had to offer. I tried, and failed, to follow their example. I wish I could tell you that I felt so miserable during those few weeks because my host family mistreated me, or because I hated the Spanish weather, or because the Spanish culture and environment disagreed with me. But my familia proved wonderful hosts, with saintly patience for my faltering attempts at communication in their native tongue. Oviedo, cradled in the lush green mountains of northern Spain, still ranks as the most beautiful city I have ever seen. But while I appreciated how lucky I was to be there, I couldn’t keep my mind from wandering back to my school in Atlanta, my friends and boyfriend there, my family, and even—of all places—my dorm room. I wanted so badly to behave as I believed a college student studying abroad should. One night early in the trip I went out with my classmates to a famous night-
club in Madrid. We dressed up, ventured forth on the Metro and paid the equivalent of about $30 in cover charge to enter a world of flashing lights, techno music and impeccably fashionable Europeans. While my companions chattered in excitement and sipped their overpriced drinks, all I could muster was a sense that I’d fulfilled some requirement of an abroad experience. I wished with all my heart to have fun. Instead, I thought of the Thai restaurant in Midtown Atlanta where the owners knew my name. I did my time in that club for a half hour before telling the others that I wasn’t feeling well and leaving, head down. Riding the Metro back to my hotel room at one in the morning, surrounded by beautiful Spanish 20-somethings just now leaving to go out for the night, I could not have felt more out of my element. The force and tenacity of my homesickness over the course of the trip stunned me. Where was my inner wild child, the courageous young woman who would have the time of her life and thrive on the challenge of navigating a foreign culture? At the same time my fellow students were enjoying summer flings and scheduling weekend trips to run with the bulls in Pamplona, I spent god knows how much money on phone cards and internet café time, talking to my family and boyfriend back home. I eventually stopped giving excuses about why I didn’t want to go out at night—I just didn’t want to go out, and everyone learned to expect that from me. My colorful European alter-ego turned out be a deep shade of boring, with a splash of homesickness thrown in for good measure. The loved ones who held my hand from thousands of miles away during those few weeks still don’t believe me when I protest that I didn’t hate Spain. I enjoyed the country’s rich culture, its warm people and sun. I just wanted to go home, where I had built a life for myself in which I felt I belonged. My uneasiness during that very long month had little to do with Spain and almost everything to do with me. A few years later, partly to test that theory, I enrolled in a master’s degree program in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. I hoped England would be a gentler abroad experience than my Spain adventure—keeping the “culture” but minus the “shock” part. I signed up to live in a house I’d never seen, with people I’d never met and hopped on a plane. Foreign living, take two. I loved living in Stratford. I adored the cobblestone streets and the Saturday market, the cozy pubs and the Tudor buildings. I still catch myself longing to sit under a willow tree by the river and watch the swans sail past. And yet, even as I appreciated and thoroughly enjoyed my time in that beloved English town, there was never any question in my mind about returning home to Atlanta after my year-long program had finished. Every night, I talked to my faraway boyfriend and said goodnight to a collage of photos of my family and college friends that hung above my bed. I did everything I could to hold on to the person I had become back home because, well, I rather liked that person. And just as when I returned from Spain, a glimpse of the Atlanta skyline from my plane’s window inspired a secret sigh of relief. Those stories that I’d heard before beginning my travels weren’t wrong in the end. You certainly do discover things about yourself during time abroad… just not always the things you wanted to discover. As it turns out, I prefer to stay warm and snug inside my chrysalis. But I’m okay with that. It’s nice and comfy in here.
Kristin Hall did indeed return home to Atlanta, Georgia, where she now writes freelance while enjoying the heck out of her day job with the Atlanta Shakespeare Company at the Shakespeare Tavern playhouse. 24
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...everyone else except me was always leaving home.
y my 10th birthday, I’d established myself as a world traveler. I had visited a remarkable number of foreign countries all by myself, and my memories of each locale were colorful and distinct. I couldn’t help but smile, recalling the lilt of an odd-sounding greeting in an old market square, the smell of the ice-capped sea or the wildflowers on the hill above the village, the taste of goat’s milk or saffron or raspberry fool. While my journeys took place only between the pages of the books I’d borrowed from the library, they were no less real to me than if I had glided down a ship’s gangplank onto foreign turf, passport in hand. The bewildering truth was that my family never went anywhere together, not anymore. When I was tiny, we had trooped off to Bethany Beach for a golden week or so beside the waves, or made regular summer-long visits to Lake Champlain before my grandmother’s small cottage was sold. These days the farthest we ever trekked was to the airport, which struck me as an especially cruel and unusual punishment given the mysterious family travel moratorium. We spent several Sunday afternoons a month collecting my mother’s elderly mother in the station wagon and bumping along the turnpike to Dulles International and back, like some sort of strange religious pilgrimage. My grandmother, who was born before the turn of the century, had never flown. It pleased her to be taken to the newly opened airport in Virginia on a regular basis just to watch the airplanes taking off. She especially liked to corral my father and mother into driving her there—afraid of her tantrums and her uncannily timed fainting spells, they always acquiesced. Though I didn’t have a choice, I went quietly along for the ride 26
each Sunday, pretending we were on our way to parts unknown. The shiny, vast expanse of Dulles itself would have thrilled me if I’d had a ticket and a suitcase. As it was, I felt a special torture had been designed especially for me, having to stand earthbound near my grandmother’s wheelchair, reading the names of exotic destinations on the departure boards and envying the streams of glamorous, luggage-laden travelers hurrying toward their gates. Though we didn’t vacation as a family, everyone else except me was always leaving home. My father went out of town on business trips to Portland or Las Vegas and brought back thoughtful souvenirs that left me even more full of wanderlust—miniature flight bags from TWA or a menu from a hotel where he’d stayed. More rarely, my mother traveled by ship to Spain or Italy on antique-buying forays for her clients, always returning with intriguing tales of street urchins or canal rides or midnight dinners in Barcelona. Even my brother managed to escape to scout camp, where he made lariats and walking sticks and saw rattlesnakes up close. I hunkered down on the window seat in the dining room with my book and an apple. I read and dreamed. I climbed the Swiss Alps just as Heidi had done, thick bread and cheese packed in my kerchief; I skipped down Paris streets with my school friends just like Madeline. I fanned myself and watched peacocks in an India revealed to me by The Secret Garden, and languished in E. Nesbit’s Egypt after reading The Story of the Amulet. Narnia was as authentic a landscape to me as the lake in Vermont had been, with the added bonus that Narnia had centaurs and talking horses and not a single skunk. But no one even knew I had gone anywhere, and no one welcomed me gladly home from my travels at the end of the afternoon. When the idea of a trip to West Virginia appeared on my parents’ horizon, I felt as if a private wish had been overheard and granted. One day life was flat
Big Dreams, Small World
Love READ IT
and ordinary and claustrophobic; the next, we were all headed to the town of White Sulfur Springs on vacation. I don’t remember if my parents proposed the visit or if they were invited by friends, but suddenly and miraculously, my family was en route as a unit—my parents, my brother in his scout uniform, myself in new lemon-colored sundress and sneakers—to The Greenbrier resort, a national historic landmark built in 1778. I felt certain it was haunted if it was that old, or at the very least, held secret rooms with mysterious persons I would discover in the middle of the night. In the back of my head resided all the perfect, delicious endings of the books I’d read. Surely after arriving at The Greenbrier, my boring life would rise from the ashes, like E. Nesbit’s Phoenix, resurrected and made whole and fascinating.
When we arrived in the Allegheny Mountains it was dusk. Before me lay the grandest hotel I’d ever seen, spread out on acres and acres of lush green lawn. I READ IT was about to sleep in the same hotel visited by Bing Crosby and the Duke of Windsor. We would enjoy the steaming sulfur baths in the same springhouse visited by the Kennedys. Maybe I would marry a president someday, and the two of us LIVE IT could reminisce about past vacations at The Greenbrier. COLLAGE IT
MAKE A PAPER HAT WITH IT
For all my fevered anticipation, nothing of real import took place LINE PACKAGE WITH during our week in WhiteASulfur Springs. My brotherIT was disgusted by my lack of skill when we tried out the resort’s bowling alley, and the free MAKE A BOOK COVER movies screening in the theater were the same ones that had shown all month at home. My parents left usMÂCHÉ to our ownIT devices during the day, PAPIER which meant my brother took off elsewhere, and I sat by the hotel pool SAVE ITwhy I hadn’t thought to bring feeling self-consciously alone, wondering a book. The Greenbrier wasn’t the sort of place in which you could run LOAN IT screaming up and down the hallways, like Eloise’s Plaza Hotel, nor could I fall tragically from a horse and be finally treasured and loved, as in Pollyanna, if I couldn’t even get my mother to cough up the resort’s hefty stable fee. By the time we checked out at the end of our week, damp bathing suits and hotel postcards stuffed into our suitcases, I couldn’t even remember what I’d hoped for from this adventure. Would it have been too much to ask, I wondered, to stumble on just one magic lake, RECYCLE IT as in the Edward Eager books, or an enchanted door hidden behind the rose-covered wallpaper of my hotel room? In the back seat of the station wagon, I sighed heavily, resigning myself to an ordinary life. A few decades too late for me, The Washington Post broke the story that The Greenbrier housed a secret underground relocation facility to shelter Congress in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust. For 30 tljsu"!jt!gsff/! years, the resort owners maintained an agreement with the federal government that, in the event of an international crisis, the entire resort Qmfbtf!tvqqpsu!uif!bewfsujtfst! property would be diverted to government use as an emergency loxip!nblf!ju!qpttjcmf/ cation. The underground bunker contained a dormitory, a hospital, a kitchen and a broadcast center for members of Congress, with changeable backdrops to make it appear as if they were actually broadcasting from D.C. instead of West Virginia. A 100-foot radio tower was installed four and a half miles away as part of the plan. The convention center, used by Greenbrier guests for business meetings, was actually a disguised workstation area for members of Congress, with hidden, 30-ton blast doors. Government workers posing as hotel audiovisual employees maintained the bunker. Looking back, I’d have to say I just had a feeling about it. Okay, maybe not exactly about the broadcast tower and the hospital, but a couple of the hotel workers at the movie theater looked awfully suspicious, and the wallpaper just didn’t look right. There was almost definitely a secret door just behind my bed in the hotel room, and if I’d ventured farther than the riding stables, I’d probably have found an enchanted lake as well. It’s important to trust one’s instincts while traveling, especially when you’re young. A seasoned reader knows precisely what to look for on vacation.
LIVE IT COLLAGE IT MAKE A PAPER HAT WITH IT LINE A PACKAGE WITH IT MAKE A BOOK COVER PAPIER MÂCHÉ IT SAVE IT LOAN IT
tljsu"!jt!gsff/! Qmfbtf!tvqqpsu!uif!bewfsujtfst! xip!nblf!ju!qpttjcmf/
Stacy Appel is an award-winning writer in California whose work has been featured in the Chicago Tribune and other publications. She has also written for National Public Radio. She is a contributor to the book You Know You’re a Writer When…. Contact Stacy at WordWork101@aol.com. skirt.com
? [ T h e F - Wo r d | F e m i n i s t s S p e a k O u t ]
Why haven’t you Said yeS? Amalia McGibbon
“here’S What i think: it’S too modern an age
When it comes to feminism, there’s plenty of talk about gender equality on a political, social, and economic scale, but what about the power dynamics between men and women in love? Women may still have a long way to go in closing the salary gap, but where do we stand when it comes to equal opportunities in romance? Okay, it’s a broad topic, so for the sake of discussion, let’s zero in on a particularly charged, pivotal point in relationships—y’know the one: engagement. A subtle shift is taking place in the eyes of women. Sixty years ago, you were lucky if a guy proposed to you. Nowadays, there’s the addendum that he’s lucky if you say yes. I’d been dating my boyfriend for four years when my 85-year-old grandma pulled me aside at a family picnic and asked, “Why haven’t you said yes to him?” I explained that there had been no marriage proposal, and asked where she’d gotten the idea that one had taken place. “Well, you once told me not to pressure you about getting married,” my grandma said. “So I figured, if you had a vote in the matter, he must have proposed.” It made sense given the long history of he-asks-her proposals in which the man holds the decision-making power. But clearly something had changed, and my own life no longer fit the usual paradigm. My grandma couldn’t imagine why the ball might be partially in my court if my boyfriend hadn’t volleyed it over in the first place. But it hit me—there was no ball! Neither my boyfriend nor I had a monopoly on the decision-making. The decision to get married had become a two-way street. Here’s what I think: It’s too modern an age for women to be sitting at home, wringing their hands, hoping their beau will decide their futures sometime soon. In fact, more and more young women are experimenting with putting their foot on the brake, stretching out the traditional collegeto-commitment timelines, and even occasionally, gasp, hoping to avoid a proposal. (True story: one of my girlfriends gets nervous every time she and her boyfriend walk past a jewelry store for fear that he’ll get inspired and buy a ring.) Some might read that and think, “The rare commitmentphobe,” but increasingly young women feel as if the world is truly our oyster and it’d be remiss of us not to vet all our options and think twice before choosing “the one.” There are those who have called this shifting tide a rejection of love and marriage, but in fact I think it suggests a renewed commitment to them, because the point of all this stalling is making sure you get it exactly right. Old habits die hard and I still buy every new Martha Stewart Wedding magazine when it hits stands, but I believe a movement is afoot in which young women want to step away from the altar for a moment and consider all the different ways their life could go. Because—as we’ve learned from the staggering statistic that 50 percent of our parents’ unions end in divorce— it’s not about getting married, but staying married. So while we like to measure women’s advancements on the world stage, I think it’s also worth examining the strides made in feminism when it comes to your own relationship. Who’s got the ball, and do you have it in you to steal it?
Women to be Sitting at home, Wringing their handS, hoping their beau Will decide their futureS Sometime Soon.”
“...increasingly young women feel as if the world is truly our oyster and it’d be remiss of us not to vet all our options and think twice before choosing ‘the one.’
Amalia McGibbon is the co-author of The Choice Effect. The book, which hits stores this month, explores the topic of today’s young women who have all the opportunities in the world and no way to decide among them, paying special attention to the impact this has on their love lives. She makes a living (almost) as a food writer and splits her time between London and California. 28
make a wish come true for a deserving child by attending the 10th Anniversary International Wine Festival on June
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candidate, Pat Bertroche, added his two cents: “I
and special event helpers. tcmgreenvillesc.org
step out to cure scleroderma—a chronic progressive autoimmune disease—during the 5th Annual Stepping Out to Cure Scleroderma Walk at Furman on June 12. Enjoy the
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to let women join sub
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When Elise was only four-years-old,
Elise Esther Solis-Caron
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“I can be shy, barely.”
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TWENTY-FOUR SEVEN WITH...
Tamara Brown | In the Cards Occupation: Owner/Designer of Tamagrams—unique greeting card and invitation designs. My blog/website: tamagrams.com and tamagrams.blogspot.com My passion right now: Coming up with innovative and creative design ideas, being a mother, wife, friend, traveling, yoga at the Y and the color teal!
I never want to: work in a cubicle again. Red, white or beer? Red and/or white wine, but haven’t had it lately since I’m pregnant! My guilty pleasure: Ice cream...anything chocolate...yummm. My muse: I get inspiration from the world around me on a daily basis. Also my 18-month-old McKenna [pictured] and husband Taylor. Right now I’m reading: “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan.
Photo by Sheril Bennett Turner 32
Favorite clothing line: The LOFT! Always... find a way to utilize your passions/strengths as an outlet, whether it be as a business or just for fun. Never... let fear hold you back. You’ll never know unless you try! Read more at greenville.skirt.com
This issue of skirt! was put together to the sounds of: Why You Runnin’ [EP] Lissie Up Front & Down Low Teddy Thompson Volume Two She & Him Tears, Lies and Alibis Shelby Lynne
“Eavesdrop” on a Baltimore couple’s adventure with cooking. This intimate blog makes you wish there was a plate set for you, too. amusebouchefortwo.blogspot.com
Visit If you care about mountaintop removal, “Follow the Coal Money” is an interactive tool that tracks the flow and influence of coal money in U.S. politics. Find out which companies are heaping their dirty coal money into politics and which lawmakers are receiving it. coalmoney.priceofoil.org
Page Turners Two Nuts in Italy Sue Ellen Haning
When fifty-six-year-old Sue Ellen agreed to backpack around Italy with daughter Jenny, she had no idea what she was in for. No itinerary and little cash equals high adventure with perfect strangers—and a fun read! Bravo!
Note Leah Dieterich’s mother always told her to write thank-you notes. So she does, every day, on her website at thxthxthx. com. A much cooler twist on the gratitude journal concept.
Sheril Bennett Turner, Editor
Take out your iPhone, launch the free Postino app, create a postcard and send it to Postino. They’ll print your cards on super high-quality paper and send them to anyone on your list. Paper postcards—how retro is that?
Forward Susan and Stephanie, friends for 17 years, got the same news within months. Susan’s father and Stephanie’s mother have been diagnosed with A.L.S. This is a journal of two women, both divinity school graduates and writers, observing, in moments small and ordinary, the way a life stilled is still a life. Forward to caregiver friends. alifestill.com
“Blanke promises to get my house and my mind decluttered.
That’s How I Got to Memphis Buddy Miller Warwick Avenue Duffy Oklahoma Hills Jimmy LaFave L.A. Song Beth Hart Already Home Ha-Ash
Throw Out Fifty Things Gail Blanke
My mother never threw anything away, so I’m terrified I’ll end up an old lady in a house with 40 cats and stacks of newspapers. Blanke promises to get my house and mind decluttered. Nikki Hardin, Publisher
planetnikki [ a visual journal ]
I was seduced by the packaging of Winsor & Newton inks. Now what will I do with them?
surprize! I found out recently that my tattoo is a Maori symbol called a koru, which means unfolding and new life and new beginnings. I didn’t know that when I chose it, but it was appropriate then and it fits even better My favorite lip balm is by Julie Hewett, but I’m being temporarily unfaithful because I couldn’t resist the funny little face on this tin.
now. Based on the shape of an unfolding fern and sometimes seen as a cresting wave, it’s always caught in the process of becoming. Recently someone asked me if I’d done everything I wanted to in life, achieved my heart’s desire. I can’t imagine that ever being true no matter how long I live. I want to be always in the process of unfolding, learning, capable of being surprised. When a new issue of skirt! is published or I’ve finished a piece of writing, I lose interest. Not because I don’t respect the finished product, but because it’s the doing that interests me, not the having done. What’s next is what keeps me awake in the world.
I saw Vivienne Westwood’s manifesto in an issue of Elle and decided to have a go at one of my own in my idea book. 34
I’ve loved Peter Beard’s diaries and scrapbooks forever, even though I only caught tantalizing glimpses in magazines. I finally found the huge new two-volume set at an affordable price on Alibris.
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