Author: Jeffrey

Miss Twang, the Girl in the Moon

Miss Twang, the Girl in the Moon

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The first time I visited the emergency room was in the spring of 1962. With its bright emergency lights, the hospital was the hub of a small community. When I entered the hospital, a woman I recognized as a friend of my family greeted me. “You’re the girl in the moon,” she said. “And you’re in the emergency room.” I was surprised and amused by this strange greeting, but she had been giving me funny looks for the past few days. The hospital staff called her “Miss Twang” or “Missy” because of her pronounced twang (a characteristic of the region where she grew up). She was a musician, an older sister to my family, an aunt of my grandmother’s. It was Missy who had taken a shine to me. I was a young woman, with long, dark hair and a big appetite. Before I knew it, Missy and I were spending time together. Over the next couple of years, I got to know her more intimately, and I learned to appreciate her more about her musical gifts, about her love of good food, about this time in her life when she was facing a difficult choice — she had to have what she wanted. I was in love, and I didn’t even know it. There had never been a girl like me — a young woman with a big appetite, who had been brought up by a musician, who was in love with that woman — in love with herself and the world.

Photo: Elizabeth Parson / Corbis / Getty

Missy never told me how she felt about me. We were both living on borrowed time. Neither one of us believed that another would ever come into our lives. A time would come, she would say, and I would be there — one of the very few people left — and then it would be over. I was a young woman with a big appetite and a big body, and I was in love. I couldn’t tell Missy this, though she would say it with a smile. I could tell her, but I didn’t know how to tell her. Her life was like a river that was being held back by all the rocks in the riverbed

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