The sky swam with grayish clouds this morning and I missed the smell of coffee, walking along streets full of not 99% white people. There is a coffee shop on every corner, and the Mormon kids would go to Starbucks and get hot chocolate. But I loved that smell, and wished desperately that my name was Tully.
The hustle crowd, bustling to work—watching them, I longed to stop in the middle and let them swarm around me. I missed that salty, fishy smell from the Puget Sound and remembered how the view from Alki beach looked like the movies, how the sky looks so wide open and from the ferry you can see in panoramic and forwards and downwards and all directions, stretch of city and sea and it is beautiful.
I am taken back to Elephant Ears at the Puyallup Fair, samples of grilled corn and almonds at Bite of Seattle. I can only dip my leg in the fountain, cautiously, because my elbow is still busted from being a wannabe gymnast, jumping on the tramp.
I have just been CPR certified to make myself more marketable as a babysitter. Tara Low is coming with me to church and Girl’s Camp. I think all my brother’s friends are marriage material and spend most of my time contriving ways to see them and get them to like me. I even google it, before everyone googled absolutely everything. I am trying to force myself to cry outside the hypnotist show at the fair, because Ben is holding Kelli Harris who ruined everything and I am trying to be so sad that he will notice and take pity and break up with her and marry me…or at least take me on the Extreme Scream with him. I am so young, and my journal and my head are filled with nothing but boys.
I am boating at Lake Tapps, tagging along with my brother and the cool kids again. I am sleeping over at Courtny Jarman's, looking up at her ceiling that has clouds painted on it and coveting her hard wood floor. She’s a dancer. I love her and am surprised that she loves me, because I'm not as cool as she is. I am showing her my toe-touch, I am going to try out for cheerleading. I am wandering the halls of Riverside High, excited to be in Vocal Jazz sophomore year and not having a clue that I want to be a music teacher.
The summer is sweltering, I am draping my limbs on fans and eating healthy choice fudge bars with Natalie. I love her, and we talk about fashion and kids at school and beg our parents to drive us to Bellevue so we can go to Sephora and coat our arms in eye shadow and perfume—when I get in the car her dad is telling me that I smell very, uh, strongly, and we just giggle and giggle, back home to spend the night with crunch n munch and girl talk and Grease.
Then I am moving away. I am not wanting to leave. We have a going away party and I’m still killing myself to impress Isaac Lomeli and trying to start the boy shorts trend. I need more time for all of these things.
Natalie is there when we are about to drive away. We’ve had a rough few days, bursting into wet tears in between bites of peach yogurt after she gave me that immaculate scrapbook of the reasons she loves me, our memories together, the billions of photoshoots and movies we’ve made.
But we’re somber now, and we don’t cry. “It doesn’t feel real,” she says. I look down at my Old Navy flip flops and try to keep my hair from curling in the humidity. The sky is shining, blaring, no clouds. I need you, I tell her, hugging her long and tight. She looks at me a few times as we mumble our last goodbyes. Neither knows anything epic or movie-worthy to say. Then she turns slowly and walks down Nathan Avenue. My face is prickling in the heat as I walk toward the van, looking back again and again for her red curly hair or her freckles, but I can’t see her.
The sky looks wide open, simmering with mixing clouds and splotches of blue. I scan the contents of this view that I have grown to love so closely, with mountains instead of trees and bikes and backpacks and shade shirts under tank tops. I love you both, I whisper. I look up to the sphere of melting gray and I let myself smile wide with the memory so pungent, the smell of youth and city life, Lakeland Hills and rain, and a coffee shop on every corner.