At Payson Park

By Sarabeth Matilsky

Payson Park is in Belmont, outside the hubbub of Boston, smack in the middle of a residential neighborhood of well-to-do folks. It’s got a ball field (small) and old-style playground equipment—not modular plastic pieces, garishly bright, but metal monkey bars and swings that haven’t been miniaturized yet to prevent lawsuits. It is a warm April afternoon, and as moms and young children trickle into the park, a little girl comes over to where Lucas (age 5) and I are playing. I am constructing a small house out of pinecones and sticks while Lucas collects dead branches from up in a pine tree.

The Great American Wedding Machine

By Sarabeth Matilsky

Nineteen thousand dollars is a lot of money. It could finance a trip around the world, or nearly equal a down-payment on a house. Nineteen thousand dollars could buy a car outright, no monthly payments necessary, or it could pay several years' worth of rent. It could feed an average American family for 6 years, and it's nearly eighty-five percent of an average American's yearly income. Nineteen thousand dollars equals the amount of money the average Chinese person earns in 52 years. According to a 1997 Bride's Magazine survey, nineteen thousand dollars—$19,104, to be exact—could also pay for an average American wedding.

Adventures of Veronica, a homeschooled teenager

(Mostly Compiled From Actual Events)
By Emily Houk, Selina Hunt, and Sarabeth Matilsky

Cast of characters:
-Veronica, a homeschooled teenager
-A Concerned Mail Carrier
-Veronica’s Concerned Grandmother
-Two of Veronica’s Concerned Peers
-Two Concerned Strangers
-Two Concerned Friends-of-the-Family


Mail Carrier: So, here’s your mail.

Veronica: Thanks.

M: You know, I’ve noticed that you haven’t been getting any college applications…

V: Oh! Uh—well, I’m not planning on going to college.

Real Live Grown One

(Originally published, I _think_, in "Growing Without Schooling" magazine.)

by Sarabeth Matilsky

For as long as I can remember, I’ve often felt like everyone and her second cousin is waiting to see how I’d turn out. I was the oldest in the homeschooling group, the oldest of five children, and one of the oldest in the homeschooling movement in general. “How will you go to college without school?” strangers ask me over and over, sounding like a broken record. “How will you get A Job?” asks my grandmother despairingly. “What if they’re socially inept?” disapproving friends insinuate to my mother. Sometimes it’s seemed like literally 99% of the people I meet have doubted aloud that I will survive my upbringing.

A Young Woman Adventurer

(Originally published in "Adventures and Challenges: Real Life Stories by Girls and Young Women," edited by Frances A. Karnes and Suzanne M. Bean)

By Sarabeth Matilsky

I was in the Seattle Airport anticipating my red-eye flight home to the East Coast with very little joy. I was returning to NJ from a camp for homeschooled teenagers, and it had been an incredible week. What a bummer to end all that with a trip on something as sterile as an airplane.

Cycling Southwesterly


The Southwest. When Jeff and I were planning the trip, those two words conjured up images of red rock canyons, barren desert, towering cacti, and the colorful sandstone formations you see on the covers of guidebooks. We had only AAA state maps during the planning process, so we sort of had to squint to see Zion and Bryce National Parks. Also, the distances between populated areas seemed a lot shorter on the map than they turned out to be while riding. But a bicycle journey through America’s southwest promised so much—a desert or two that neither of us had ever seen, scenery beyond words, and of course—like on all bike trips—wonderful people. So practicality be damned (we were seasoned cycletourists, after all), we formed a vague list of destinations that caught our fancy.

My Day, January 22 1998

January 20, 1998

There are a lot of headaches that one must deal with to be an unschooler. For eighteen years, my parents or myself have had to answer continual questions on everything from my social development to my ability to get a Real Job. And yet, despite all the challenges I wouldn’t trade these eighteen years for anything in the world. Today was one of those days that reminded me of that...

Reviving Ophelia Article

I currently can't find a copy of this essay, which was originally published in "blue jean: what young women are thinking, saying, and doing," edited by Sherry S. Handel. Let me know if you find it somewhere!

Teaching in a Lonely Desert

(Originally published in the George Street Co-op's newsletter, "Food for Thought," in 1996(?)

by Sarabeth Matilsky

I never sit in a school classroom. I’m a homeschooler, and the idea of a classroom with other students around me in orderly rows and a teacher in front is alien to me. Does this mean I have no teachers, that I don’t learn from anyone? Does it indicate that I am deprived of an intellectual community?

Turning Sixteen

(Originally published in "New Moon Network" magazine, May/June(??) 1997)

by Sarabeth Matilsky

On 12 November 1995, I turned sixteen and crossed that invisible threshold separating childhood from the rest of my life. On that crisp November evening I passed into a new period of my life surrounded by my family and twenty-four close friends.

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