Ada Calhoun’s ranging examination of women in the Generation X demographic — sandwiched between the much larger Baby Boom and Millennial generations — and their unique struggles in mid-life.
His pregnant girlfriend’s father had abandoned her and her mother when she was young, and the writer is determined to prove to them that he’ll be a different kind of man and father:
“When Kenyatta was 2, her father walked out on his family. He never returned, but his ghost walks with Kenyatta and Camille, dredging up ancient issues of trust between black men and women. And so for their mutual protection, Camille has forged a secret pact with her daughter—it’s the two of them against the world. Nobody, especially not a man, can save them.
“I want to believe that I’ve given both Camille and Kenyatta reason to think differently about me. I don’t close down the clubs or run the streets. I have a passion for cooking and reading, which makes me a natural homebody. Most important, I love Kenyatta. And I also feel bound by her pain. Her father’s sin of abandonment, so common among black men, feels like some sort of burdensome family debt. On my honor, I’ll have that debt paid. But I want to do it as I see fit—without fanfare and pomp, without grandiose titles and pronouncements, without marriage.”
The writer reflects on a 1987 tragedy that forever changed the lives of the sisters of Ole Miss’s Chi Omega sorority:
“In my mother’s house I keep a packet of newspaper stories, yellowed relics. And when I look at them I feel no time has passed. I am back in the Chi O house, living in the room above the front door, listening to girls come and go, drifting off for a nap as Lynn strums ‘Leaving on a Jet Plane’ on her guitar, as Michelle practices piano in the parlor off the front hall, as Chandler and Fig and Bryan and the other houseboys banter in baritone while setting up the dining room for dinner. I see Robin and Margaret lined up for the lunchtime salad bar minutes before they leave for Highway 6. And Margaret tucking her keys in her hiding place in the foyer, because she’d be right back.”
Since the day her son participated in the most devastating high school shooting America has ever seen, I have wanted to sit down with Susan Klebold to ask her the questions we’ve all wanted to ask—starting with “How did you not see it coming?” and ending with “How did you survive?” Over the years, Susan has politely declined interview requests, but several months ago she finally agreed to break her silence and write about her experience for O. Even now, many questions about Columbine remain. But what Susan writes here adds a chilling new perspective. This is her story.