All posts tagged: Dispatches

The Hat


Budapest, Hungary


At this moment, it is night in Budapest, and a woman has left her hat in a restaurant. This restaurant is in Buda, yet she is already crossing the bridge into Pest. Yes—perhaps you didn’t know—Budapest is not one place but two places split by a river. Like the woman separated from her hat. Perhaps we are all schizophrenics.

Debbie WenThe Hat

Nobody’s Home


Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville protest

I hear the call, one voice:

Mr. Sessions has used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens in the district he now seeks to serve as a federal judge. This simply cannot be allowed to happen.

Then the response, many voices in unison:

Mr. Sessions has used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens in the district he now seeks to serve as a federal judge. This simply cannot be allowed to happen.

Light from cell phone screens illuminate clusters of people standing in the street. Around two hundred of us, young and old, parents and children, stand in front of our senator’s condo. The road is blocked on either side by police cars, who mute their lights so they don’t hurt our eyes.

Flavia MartinezNobody’s Home

El Putxet


Barcelona Montjuic

I woke up early to finish some reading, but have been in bed for hours scrolling through Facebook, with little fingers and tired eyes fixed to the screen, and now it’s 1 pm. Though the streets of Barcelona are sunny most days, only secondhand light teases in from the center courtyard of the apartment building, and sometimes in here I forget what sun is. It’s the only bedroom that faces inward, the one my host mother lived in as a girl. This was her childhood home.

Flavia MartinezEl Putxet

The Iron-On Labels


Campground and picnic

In the late eighties, when I was twelve, I went to a camp called Walking G Ranch. My sisters went, too. It was in the mountains of California, in Taylorsville, but now I have to look that up on a map because when you’re a kid you never know where you are. It was a working ranch, and we all got up early in the morning to take care of the animals – milk the cows and feed the pigs their slop – and sometimes at night, my friend Anne and I slept in the hayloft. On other nights, we rowed out to a little island in the middle of the pond. It felt immensely far, but it was just a pond.

Flavia MartinezThe Iron-On Labels

An Almost-Spring Saturday Night, Providence, RI, My Son’s Fifteenth Birthday


Basketball hoop in Providence

Three of them are shooting hoops in the echo chamber between our house and the neighbor’s, close clapboard and winter-washed cedars walling in the narrow driveway. Someone is the swaggering smuggler of an enormous speaker, and the bass ricochets off the concrete. There’s a wife-beater, boom box vibe even though it’s Spotify. In my small-town childhood only boys without cars had boom boxes, and they slunk down Main Street blasting Metal to distortion, trailing smoke, projecting danger. The boys at the boarding school up the hill, ravaged stoners, were less aggressive but more alienated.

Isabel MeyersAn Almost-Spring Saturday Night, Providence, RI, My Son’s Fifteenth Birthday

Letter to a Ghost


Tehachapi, California

When I was twelve I was admitted to the hospital in Tehachapi. We shared a room, the only one open in the rural clinic. You handcuffed to the bed, me straining for air.

Julia PikeLetter to a Ghost

Explore New York City with The Common

Here at The Common, we’re all about place, so we’ve been experimenting with more ways for readers to experience the locations of our pieces. Using this map, you can explore all the dispatches we’ve published set in New York City. Get to know Eli the Seltzer Man, the nighthawks on the Upper West Side, and more! 

Julia PikeExplore New York City with The Common

Incident at Dante’s


Caffé Dante in Greenwich Village

There’s a cafe called Dante’s on MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village that my father and I used to visit when I was a teenager.

It’s located in what is sometimes called the “south village,” which once was largely Italian. There were still traces of that neighborhood when I was a kid. Grandmothers on folding chairs outside tenements on Leroy Street, Our Lady of Pompei on Carmine Street, a Mafia social club on Sullivan Street, St. Anthony’s Church, the Vesuvio Bakery, tough kids hanging out in Thompson Park, Ottamanelli’s butcher shop.

Isabel MeyersIncident at Dante’s



HouseGarrett County, Maryland 

Kinder, es endet noch schlecht!” my grandmother cautions my cousins, who are wrestling near the fireplace. “Kids, this is going to end badly!” She laughs as she says it, though. Everyone is scattered around the living room, the nucleus of the big house. Cushioned benches run the length of two walls, and there’s a big fireplace elevated in a square stone fixture in the center of the room. A giant cylindrical black flue descends from the ceiling to catch the smoke and carry it outside.

Julia PikeRivendell

Missing Worlds



I bring my husband home to show him my secrets.

We both come from famous places. He’s from Nashville, I’m from Sedona. We one-up each other: He saw Porter Waggoner pushing a mower and Chet Atkins at the golf course. I served Bruce Springsteen a chocolate ice cream; Ted Danson’s folks banked with my mom.

Julia PikeMissing Worlds