Rebecca van Laer, NY


Rebecca is a writer and editor whose poetry and prose has appeared in journals including Salamander, Hobart, Prodigal, The Cimarron Review, and elsewhere. She holds a B.A. in English from Cornell University and an M.A. in English from Brown University, where she is currently pursuing a Ph.D. As a teacher and writer, she enjoys helping others bring their stories to life.

As a Story Terrace writer, Rebecca interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below.

April Air

The journey began with an elevator ride: I stepped in with my dad and my little brother and we descended twelve floors. As always, I felt my body note the moment we began to go down—it wasn’t an unpleasant sensation, but a little rise in my belly that lasted for the minute or so before we stopped in the lobby. The bell chimed, the doors opened, and my stomach dropped again. We walked through the glass doors and out onto the sidewalk.

It was April, and New York City was just beginning to heat up. Some people wore coats and others wore shorts. The sun shone off the buildings and illuminated the sidewalk, stained white from the salt used to melt that winter’s snow. We went down the block, down the stairs, and into the subway. The journey took less than a day, but had many steps. We took the subway to the airport, took a plane ride, rented a car, and then, finally, began the drive to our new home.

As we drove south from Atlanta, my belly rose again. The world around us looked so different: there were oceans of brown and green grass, trees draped with kudzu, and one-story shopping complexes. After twenty minutes, there was no trace of the city. And after forty, we were there, driving up to our new house. We had neighbors to the left and to the right, but there was nothing but forest in the back yard or across the street. I got out of the car and took my coat off. “Dad,” I said, “The air smells so clean.” He laughed, and we walked up to the door together.

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