maddie pillari

Addie Was More Than a Nanny

It was the day before my fifth birthday when she first arrived. My siblings and I had already successfully scared away three nannies in two months.

She brought me a doll, a gift I promptly rejected. I was a tomboy in Greenwich, CT, and deeply offended by Addie’s pink-skirted, blond-haired peace offering. It didn’t take long for my siblings and I to realize that despite our valiant and ruthless efforts, she wasn’t going anywhere.

Uncomfortable Underground

New York City in the summer is notorious for its uncomfortable heat and sticky humidity. Tourists in Midtown sag together,  pushing past each other in a sweaty August frenzy. Taxi exhaust clogs the air, the sun tries hopelessly to pierce through the smog and Manhattan swelters — a tired, miserable haze. There is no reprieve beneath the sidewalk. Steamy subway platforms seem to breathe, and the metal cars push columns of air even hotter and denser than the oppressive heat in Times Square. 

26.2 Miles

The first person to ever run a marathon died. After Pheidippides completed his famous 26.2 mile journey from Marathon to Athens to report the defeat of the Persian Army, he gasped out his famous last words: “Rejoice, we conquer!” Death is the least likely on the long and painful list of potential injuries that long-distance runners face. Most of these injuries don’t go away on their own, and require expensive physical therapy or surgery—and that’s only for immediate treatment. And yet, we live in a society where exercise is thrust upon us as the answer to all of our physical and mental health problems. 

No One Dies Alone

I pray on airplanes.

Two times—once right before takeoff and once after landing. I say one Hail Mary and one Our Father. I cross myself the way I was taught, the way I have since I was young. I don’t believe in God anymore, at least not in the proper, liturgical sense. I don’t know exactly when it changed. Maybe after I watched Sister Beyeman march to the squirming eight-year-olds during Mass to scold them. Maybe it was the triumphant anger on her face when she caught them giggling to each other as the fumbling priest shakily bowed to the altar, a wrinkled hand gripping the edge of the wood.