Cover Photo: photo courtesy Thomas Rinaldi, New York Neon blog
photo courtesy Thomas Rinaldi, New York Neon blog

Sin Will Find You Out

“I was born four years before Governor Rockefeller legalized abortion.”

I Love Lucy, Supermarket Sweep, The Dating Game, Father Knows Best

As the World Turns, General Hospital, You Don’t Say!, The MatchGame

BonanzaI’ve Got a Secret, My Three Sons, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Hogan’s Heroes

The Guild of the Infant Saviour, c. 1940. Photo courtesy New York City Municipal Archives

“My dad thought the nuns named me for the archangel Gabriel,” I said.

“Actually, I named you after Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, a feminist icon of mine,” Peggy said. “I must have been reading her biography at the time. I had a notebook of names for my future kids. I think Megan was one of those names, but there was also Daisy, Gabriella, Amanda, Calliope, Ariadne—the Greek goddess who untangled the spider’s web, or maybe it was the Gordian knot.” When she said, “The nuns were my first feminist icons,” I nearly choked on my wine.

The author at approximately four months old, at her foster home in North Canaan, CT.

St. Clare’s Hospital, Hell’s Kitchen, New York

I began retracing Peggy’s steps by visiting the places in New York City where she went when she was pregnant with me. I thought it might provide me solace, or give me a sense of where I had come from. I visited St. Clare’s because it was the charity hospital where I was born; I visited the Guild of the Infant Saviour because it was where Peggy spent four months of her pregnancy. I drove by the house where Peggy grew up in East Norwalk, Connecticut. It was a modestly sized nondescript tract house in the Strawberry Hill neighborhood across from Devine’s Dairy Farm, which was owned by my adopted father’s cousin. My dad spent summers helping out on that farm.

get right with god.

I stopped for a minute. I smelled scuffed gum on the sidewalk; faint body odor pollinated the air, and I could feel neighborhood eyes on me. I watched the red and white sign unfold its message across the darkening sky. I kept walking and turned back to look up at the other side, which was now fully lit. It read: sin will find you out.

St Paul‘s Mission, Hell‘s Kitchen, New York. Photo courtesy Thomas Rinaldi, New York Neon blog

Megan Culhane Galbraith is a 2016 Saltonstall Fellow. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in PANK, The Review Review, Literary Orphans, The Lost Daughters, Hotel Amerika, and Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, among others. She is at work on a collection of essays, titled The Guild of the Infant Saviour, which explores motherhood,  nature and nurture, the transformation of New York City, and the many forms of shame and surrender. She is a graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars and also runs The Dollhouse. Find her @megangalbraith and