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Laura Cunningham

  • I went to kindergarten as if into daily battle. There was only one respite: nap time, when we stretched out in rows of cots, like Civil War wounded.

  • In the family it is said Gabe 'doesn't notice much — his head is in the clouds.' He accepts this criticism as complimentary: 'In the clouds? Oh, thank you. I try.'

  • Life is often a motiveless crime.

  • Bonny isn't ordinary. She has a liquid, intellectual gaze, as if she's not a dog but a Democrat, interested, like Gabe and Len, in civil liberties.

  • It had not occurred to me that she would sleep in my room: I am eight and she is nearly eighty. ... I've acquired not the doting Nana of my dreams, but an aged kid sister. Within hours, the theft and rivalry begin.

  • There is much precedent in the family for pretending that the dead have not died but are living in other cities. Practicing a form of emotional etiquette, it is considered good form to spare elderly relatives sad news. Whenever we attend family reunions, the uncles give me a quick refresher course in who's officially dead and who's not. It would be helpful to maintain a cross-index, because some elderly aunts know while others don't know. ... (When a cousin actually did move to California, no one believed it — the other cousins all believed this was a euphemism for the much-longer journey.)

  • ... I make desperate attempts to turn 7G into House Beautiful in time for the home visit. I take more Clorox and wipe at the fingerprints that surround every light switch. Why, I wonder as I wipe, were we clawing at these light switches? It looks as if coal miners were trying to escape.

  • There are homes you run from, and homes you run to ...

  • ... I escape into that trance that memory shares with arousal. The same buzz in the blood, the reprieve, once more, from real time. That ecstatic condition the scientists call 'alpha,' and psychologists know as 'flow.' I still enjoy these transports of delight, the near-optical illusion as the outer world recedes and the inner world is allowed to take over: powerful, illogical. The radiance of the daydream.

Laura Cunningham, U.S. writer


Sleeping Arrangements is one of my all-time favorite books.