*Written in October 2014 for CCC Nonfiction Workshop course.
I am climbing a tree and it’s blooming with the type of flowers that I do not know the name of. They are pastel pink and have petals lined with what seems like silver colored stardust. I have the flu and can’t smell them, but I imagine they smell like most flowers do. My jeans are ripped at the knees from climbing. A few branches above my head, I notice a single flower that has not bloomed yet. When it does, I wonder if it will look like the others.
I am kayaking down a river in Georgia. It is my first year at summer camp and I’m happy because today is “grilled cheese for lunch” day. I know how to paddle better than the girl in front does, but I let her think that she is the one steering the boat towards the cabin. Her hair is the kind of auburn that lights up when the sun hits it at the right angle. The water is dirty and I look for turtles because someone told me once that they lived here.
I am standing on Michigan Avenue near the bridge in Chicago. My teen tour program has given us an afternoon of free time as a reward for being respectful during the safe sex presentation. Brandon and I are sharing headphones, even though I don’t like his music. He plays the kind of heavy metal that sounds like pots and pans clanking together in an old person’s kitchen. I watch all of the city people doing city things and have no idea that one day I will join them.
I am visiting my sister in college. At a fraternity party, I sip on my warm beer and don’t like it. A drunken girl wearing bra and an unbuttoned plaid shirt is riding a mechanical bull. I want to laugh like her, but I don’t want to drink any more beer. My sister hugs each stranger that passes by and tells them how she’s doing. My sister is everything that I’m not: radiant and social and the kind of exquisite that makes people turn their heads even when they’re in a rush. She’s going to be a nurse, she says, and I know she will be the pretty kind. That coming spring, she would have her heart broken but still remain composed enough to not become the drunken girl riding the mechanical bull.
I am watching the sun disappear beneath the horizon in shades of pinks and oranges and reds and yellows. Sipping my strawberry banana smoothie, I wish for the sun to make my body so hot that it melts into the sand. There are many girls here who look better in bikinis than I do and I remember all of the time I’ve seen snow while visiting my cousins in New Jersey.
I am holding the ladder steady while she hangs an American flag. My job is to look at the bolts in the wall to make sure that the decoration is hung straight, but my eyes move to watch her instead. It was not hung straight, but she did not notice. Tomorrow we will watch fireworks and wear patriotic colors and soldier on with our last summer together. She is proud of her flag and it will fall down when it rains that evening.
I am spinning inside of a teacup at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. The induced dizziness awakens a surge of energy within me much needed from a long day in the theme park. I am wearing Minnie mouse ears and it is the best day of my life. My mom flashes her a smile and pretends to enjoy the ride. Next, we will ride the rollercoaster and she will pretend to like that, too.