They lived in what was really a tenement in Hyde Park Chicago. Her father was in graduate school, and she and her older brother and younger sister lived with her parents, an old cat and a young Labrador puppy in an apartment. There was a swingset at the bottom of the back stairs, but you had to be very careful not to fall off because the ground was covered with gravel, and it would really hurt your knees.
There was so much to do in the neighborhood; one of the best things was going to the beach. We would walk there, over the overpass with the cars streaming underneath. It wasn’t until years later that she learned that her sister had the same fear that she did: That somehow her flip-flops, and then her whole body would slip through the slats down into the traffic.
When they got to the beach they had to change. Mom would send them into the ladies room with their swimsuits, and she remembered the cold concrete floor and trying not to drop her clothes. Sometimes getting into her swimsuit made her think about the time she walked to school and looked down an alley to see a grown man squeezing into a girdle.
But now it was time to go play in the water. She waited for her sister, took her hand and went out.