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a n drr ea p h illl ips

a n drr ea p h illl ips

som m e o t h err distt an n t shoree

som m e o t h err distt an n t shore e

I satI at I my sat desk reading deskreading reading through through youryour your manuscript. manuscript. sat at at mymy desk through manuscript. Soaking Soaking it in,itallin, itofin, all literally I literally bawled bawled all over allover over myself myself (a (a Soaking allit. ofI of it.it. I literally bawled all myself (a 30 year 30 oldyear man, may man, I remind mayI remind I remind you)you) and you)then, andthen, then, moments moments 30 year oldold man, may and moments later,later, alater, silent, a silent, hysterical hysterical laugh laugh erupting erupting though though the the a silent, hysterical laugh erupting though the tears.tears. You tears. have You put have Dylan, put Dylan, Mike, Mike, all ofall all usof ofthat us that that you love you You have put Dylan, Mike, us you love love in the in the well-deserved most well-deserved light.light. light. The The most The most most wonderful wonderful in most the most well-deserved wonderful thingthing about thing this about collection this collection of stories stories is your your insight insight intointo about this collection ofofstories isisyour insight into all things, all things, especially especially mom’s mom’s behavior. behavior. It’s something It’ssomething something veryvery all things, especially mom’s behavior. It’s very special you special have written. have written. Thank Thank you for you this forwonderful thiswonderful wonderful gift.gift. special youyou have written. Thank you for this gift. My only question only question is: can play can myself I playmyself myself in the thefilm film version? version? MyMy only question is:Iis: can I play ininfilm the version?

som m e o t h err distt an n t shoree

on soonm osno esm ot om tehe eetrot tdistant he distant shore: shore: ot he e rerdistant shore:

aa memoir memoir a memoir

-Benjamin -Benjamin -Benjamin a n drr ea p h illl ips

andrea andrea phillips phillips andrea phillips


some other distant shore


some other distant shore a memoir

andrea phillips


contents the anniversary card page one alphabetically page seven the men who loved her page seventeen father page twenty seven her first born page thirty one perspective page forty her last born page forty five the antidote page fifty six


the anniversary card

On my one year wedding anniversary, I received a card from my mother. My mother and I had not spoken for almost a year by then, but I was not surprised to see the envelope with her familiar handwriting in the mailbox that day. There had been other cards in the past year, on Christmas and my birthday, but I had planned for those. It was as if I were a recovering alcoholic and those cards were the hiss of a beer cap twisting off the bottle, the smoky sour smell of my favorite bar. I could not trust myself around them. I did not trust the person they could make me. I took those unopened cards to my husband and I asked him to throw them away. My husband, who had never stopped rooting for me regardless of how many times I failed in the past, had done what I had asked. By my first anniversary, I had completed months of therapy with flying colors. I had stopped cringing when I caught sight of myself at certain angles in the

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with her bare feet in the lap of a man I didn’t know. There had been a few others drifting in and out of my mother’s life in the time between Tony and this newest one, but I hadn’t known much about them. Busy with my own life, the planning of a union to the one man I would spend forever with, my mother’s men had received only my peripheral attention. After the ceremony but before the dancing had started in earnest, I caught sight of my mother sitting alone, her date either off to the men’s room or ducking out to smoke a quick cigar under the vineyard stars. She was trying, my mother, smiling at people she recognized and busying herself with her napkin, but I knew better. Alone was not my mother’s natural state. Alone was something my mother only was when a man was not available. She relaxed noticeably when he rejoined her, gazing up at him with a look I had seen many times before. My mother caught my eye, and waved me over. She pulled me in close; her breath was warm on my ear. “Have you met Jim?” she said.

father

I first remember father meaning Lou Falieno, the steel-worker husband of my baby-sitter Marlene. Lou came home at six every night, stopping only to throw down his lunch tin and grab a beer before settling into his recliner. At five of six, if my mother had not yet come to get my brother and me, Marlene would herd us into the basement with warnings not to make a sound. Lou did not like noise. Lou did not want to see any signs of Marlene’s day job when he came home from work. Lou did not like children, not even his own, both of whom were terrified of him. I felt very lucky that my house did not have a Lou Falieno. I began dating in high school, once the boys could drive. I never dated mean young men. I dated nice young men, but I never told my mother about them. I had to remember that my mother spent five months in a home for unwed mothers when my father got her pregnant. I had to remember that my mother did the best she could. I had to remember that without my mother, god knows where I would

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SOME OTHER

DISTANT SHORE

be and that she never really wanted children either. I dated nice young men who paid for dinner and complimented me on my vocabulary and never raised their voices and I was always terrified that my mother would find out about them.

among boys. When I broke up with him in a hotel room on Valentine’s Day, he sat on the edge of the bed with his face buried into my waist and he cried and kept asking me why it hurt so badly.

I was never promiscuous. I knew that my gift to give could only be given once. I clung to my gift, refusing to take the bow off the package. There was nobody at my house cleaning a gun and asking these boys what their intentions were. Nobody to tell me that I could have been dead in a ditch for all they knew when I came home late without calling. I knew that my father had once been these boys and that my mother had once been me. I knew that I was the only one making sure I didn’t end up like they had.

For many years, I did not fall in love. I wanted everyone to fall in love with me and did anything I could think of to make it happen. I thought of nothing else. I would lie awake for hours devising ways to outwit their stubborn hearts. I sent myself flowers. I left platters of cookies on their porches in the middle of the night and then didn’t answer their calls for two days. I used compliments and smiles and v-necks to build them up to incredible heights and then I watched as they hovered precariously at the peak. When they fell, I lost interest immediately. They became embarrassing to me. Often, I would not speak to them again. I noticed this pattern in myself. Alone in my car, I would ask myself if it was really about my father. Myself swore it wasn’t and so I let the matter drop.

Some years back, I found my mother’s diary in a box in the basement. I flipped through it until I saw my father’s name and then I felt like I was seeing my fate written in her girly script on the musty page. “That cute guy came in again today,” she had written. “He wasn’t in my line, but he kept staring at me. Before he left he asked for my number. His name is Drew Santoriello.” I could not fathom that three lives were created and abandoned based on this one chance encounter. My very existence hinged on a nothing more than a cute guy getting the phone number of the register girl at the local Burger King. The first boy I ever loved I wasn’t in love with. He could grow a beard. He brought my little brother his old Legos and showed him how to use them to build the space station on the front of the box. He took me to buy my first car and he taught me how to drive a stick shift. When he drove me home, he made sure I was in the house safely before pulling away from the curb. He was, at seventeen, a man 28

I once saw my father at a yard sale. I had not seen him in many, many years and the sight of him was so shocking that for awhile I did not notice the two small children with him, the boy riding on his back and the girl clutching his hand. They both called him “Daddy.” They were young enough to be mistaken for my own children. My father did not see me. It felt very important that I look over the faces of those children, to be certain that no traces of my brothers or me could be found there. On the way home, I told myself that I must have misheard him calling those children “love” and “darling.” That could not have been him who kept such a careful grip on his young blond daughter’s hand. I met the son of a violent alcoholic who had not spoken to this son in close to

29


SOME OTHER

DISTANT SHORE

be and that she never really wanted children either. I dated nice young men who paid for dinner and complimented me on my vocabulary and never raised their voices and I was always terrified that my mother would find out about them.

among boys. When I broke up with him in a hotel room on Valentine’s Day, he sat on the edge of the bed with his face buried into my waist and he cried and kept asking me why it hurt so badly.

I was never promiscuous. I knew that my gift to give could only be given once. I clung to my gift, refusing to take the bow off the package. There was nobody at my house cleaning a gun and asking these boys what their intentions were. Nobody to tell me that I could have been dead in a ditch for all they knew when I came home late without calling. I knew that my father had once been these boys and that my mother had once been me. I knew that I was the only one making sure I didn’t end up like they had.

For many years, I did not fall in love. I wanted everyone to fall in love with me and did anything I could think of to make it happen. I thought of nothing else. I would lie awake for hours devising ways to outwit their stubborn hearts. I sent myself flowers. I left platters of cookies on their porches in the middle of the night and then didn’t answer their calls for two days. I used compliments and smiles and v-necks to build them up to incredible heights and then I watched as they hovered precariously at the peak. When they fell, I lost interest immediately. They became embarrassing to me. Often, I would not speak to them again. I noticed this pattern in myself. Alone in my car, I would ask myself if it was really about my father. Myself swore it wasn’t and so I let the matter drop.

Some years back, I found my mother’s diary in a box in the basement. I flipped through it until I saw my father’s name and then I felt like I was seeing my fate written in her girly script on the musty page. “That cute guy came in again today,” she had written. “He wasn’t in my line, but he kept staring at me. Before he left he asked for my number. His name is Drew Santoriello.” I could not fathom that three lives were created and abandoned based on this one chance encounter. My very existence hinged on a nothing more than a cute guy getting the phone number of the register girl at the local Burger King. The first boy I ever loved I wasn’t in love with. He could grow a beard. He brought my little brother his old Legos and showed him how to use them to build the space station on the front of the box. He took me to buy my first car and he taught me how to drive a stick shift. When he drove me home, he made sure I was in the house safely before pulling away from the curb. He was, at seventeen, a man 28

I once saw my father at a yard sale. I had not seen him in many, many years and the sight of him was so shocking that for awhile I did not notice the two small children with him, the boy riding on his back and the girl clutching his hand. They both called him “Daddy.” They were young enough to be mistaken for my own children. My father did not see me. It felt very important that I look over the faces of those children, to be certain that no traces of my brothers or me could be found there. On the way home, I told myself that I must have misheard him calling those children “love” and “darling.” That could not have been him who kept such a careful grip on his young blond daughter’s hand. I met the son of a violent alcoholic who had not spoken to this son in close to

29


twenty years. This man’s son told me “I will raise my boys to be good and honest men, but my daughters will own my heart.” I knew then that I would marry him. When I did marry him, three years later, my brothers escorted me to the tree in the vineyard that would serve as our altar. I had one beautiful best friend on each arm. I saw my husband’s face, and I was not nervous at all. My heart was as light as air and my father never once crossed my mind.

her first born

Benjamin is made of something else entirely. He does not look like Dylan and me. When people meet Dylan and me they say “There’s no denying you two are related!” and “You are certainly cut from the same cloth!” And it is true, Dylan and I own identical sets of huge eyes and open smiles with straight square teeth. We have the same muscular builds, the same hands with the same short fingers. Even our baby pictures are indistinguishable, two toothless grinning toddlers with pug noses and wisps of blond hair, one in 1982, one in 1992. But Benjamin. Benjamin is tall and thin with a straight Roman nose, and dark, dark hair that is as thick as it is wild. His smile, at least the one he uses in pictures, is a smirk that suggests he is the only one in on the joke. He has only recently, now almost thirty, learned to use his looks to his advantage. He has mastered the

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Andrea Phillips is a recent graduate of the MFA program at the University of Baltimore. This is her first memoir. Now that she has exhausted the topic of being someone’s daughter, her future plans include the experience of being someone’s mother... if only for the new material.


Some Other Distant Shore was written and produced as part of the Creative Writing and Publishing MFA program at the University of Baltimore. Cover and layout design was completed by the author with vital assistance from the talented Miss Christine Dickler. The book was printed in an edition of 100 copies by Gasch Printing of Odenton, Maryland. The typeface throughout is Bell MT.


a n drr ea p h illl ips

a n drr ea p h illl ips

som m e o t h err distt an n t shoree

som m e o t h err distt an n t shore e

I satI at I my sat desk reading deskreading reading through through youryour your manuscript. manuscript. sat at at mymy desk through manuscript. Soaking Soaking it in,itallin, itofin, all literally I literally bawled bawled all over allover over myself myself (a (a Soaking allit. ofI of it.it. I literally bawled all myself (a 30 year 30 oldyear man, may man, I remind mayI remind I remind you)you) and you)then, andthen, then, moments moments 30 year oldold man, may and moments later,later, alater, silent, a silent, hysterical hysterical laugh laugh erupting erupting though though the the a silent, hysterical laugh erupting though the tears.tears. You tears. have You put have Dylan, put Dylan, Mike, Mike, all ofall all usof ofthat us that that you love you You have put Dylan, Mike, us you love love in the in the well-deserved most well-deserved light.light. light. The The most The most most wonderful wonderful in most the most well-deserved wonderful thingthing about thing this about collection this collection of stories stories is your your insight insight intointo about this collection ofofstories isisyour insight into all things, all things, especially especially mom’s mom’s behavior. behavior. It’s something It’ssomething something veryvery all things, especially mom’s behavior. It’s very special you special have written. have written. Thank Thank you for you this forwonderful thiswonderful wonderful gift.gift. special youyou have written. Thank you for this gift. My only question only question is: can play can myself I playmyself myself in the thefilm film version? version? MyMy only question is:Iis: can I play ininfilm the version?

som m e o t h err distt an n t shoree

on soonm osno esm ot om tehe eetrot tdistant he distant shore: shore: ot he e rerdistant shore:

aa memoir memoir a memoir

-Benjamin -Benjamin -Benjamin a n drr ea p h illl ips

andrea andrea phillips phillips andrea phillips

Some Other Distant Shore  

A memoir by Andrea Phillips

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