Return to Fourth Street
Marcia Meier, author
Synopsis of Return to Fourth Street, A Memoir Return to Fourth Street by journalist and editor Marcia Meier tells the story of her tragic encounter with a car while walking her bike across the street at the age of five. Knocked to the pavement and dragged nearly 200 feet, Meier loses her left cheek and eyelid and subsequently endures twenty plastic and reconstructive surgeries over the next fifteen years. Return opens in 2016, when Meier has gone back to her hometown in Michigan for the funeral of an uncle. With her daughter and significant other, they return to her childhood home where the accident occurred, and she realizes she has assigned the sorrow and trauma of all those years not to the place where the accident occurred, but to the Catholic Church, which, in an act of defiance, she left as a teenager. The second chapter returns to the morning of the accident in 1961, and subsequent chapters begin with the surgeon’s notes from a surgery, weaving together the story of Meier’s childhood and how the surgeries and serious facial disfigurement affected her, especially through the years she attended the Catholic school near her home. The story moves back and forth in time, from her childhood to her fiftieth birthday, when everything in her life begins to fall apart, and when, with the help of a therapist, she realizes she has to go back in time to confront the fear and pain in order to move forward with her life. As Meier delves into her past, she discovers that her relationship with her mother isn’t what she thought it was, realizing that her mother had been distant and disapproving all her life, though her father’s love kept her from seeing it until he died. The author spends most of her fifties discovering who she is and who she wants to be, based not of the scarred child she was but on the woman she is today. Along the way she loses her father and her sister, her marriage and her business. And she spends the last eight years of her mother’s life trying to please her. Ultimately, Meier gains a sense of deep spirituality and love, and finds out what really matters in life, coming to a place of understanding, and, yes, forgiveness—of herself, her surgeon, and her mother.