Last week Ali and I had friends over to celebrate our twenty-first birthdays. We asked everyone to bring a dish of food and dress like their favorite literary character. Hester Prynne came with eggplant moussaka, Hamlet brought plantains, and Kira, as the momma from The Namesake, arrived with a big pot of pea soup. Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway went in on a roast chicken; the boys next door baked muffins and claimed to be assorted characters from 1984. Ali went as Oliver Twist, and I was Lolita. I was not sure whether this was appropriate but it gave me an excuse to wear an old pair of heart-shaped glasses and attempt a complicated braided hairstyle.