In my new novel, What’s Left, her aunt Nita embodies a rare quality I’ve come to appreciate. She’s someone who seems to know everyone. She takes an interest in their lives and families. Remembers details. Asks questions. Suggests social connections, job opportunities, resources.

She’s also someone people trust. You can confide in her, find consolation, comfort, compassion.

In the bigger picture, she’s a kind of person who makes community function. I can make a list of people I’ve known who do that.

Not everything makes the final edition:

Nita, our countess of questions, our bottle-opener of secrets, our corkscrew of good gossip … 


I’ve known a few people like Nita. For some mysterious reason, people just naturally open up to them, confess their darkest secrets or matters they’d never tell anyone else.

I’m trying to think of being a teen, but here’s one place I draw a blank.

Is there an adult you can confide in about your romances, relationships, or desires? What makes this individual so privileged?

(Or if you’re older, was there?)


Terry’s Coffee Shop, 291 Broadway, Brooklyn, close to Marcy Avenue station. Photo by Daniel Schwen via Wikimedia Commons.

In my novel, the family restaurant could have been like this.



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