In the year twenty sixteen I was twenty six years
(most of the time)
And its highlights are not documented digitally
when blasted Julie Miller after Thanksgiving dinner
when the guests had left and I connected my phone
to those old speakers we’ve had my whole life
the auxiliary chord is fraying
(but it works)
and we turned the volume up more than a Brooklyn-apartment dweller like myself
could ever dream of
and my mother and I shushed my father when he tried to tell a story
because he should know better.
After all, he was the one who taught us to circle the block
if the guitar solo wasn’t over yet
never mind that dinner was on the table
because Tom Petty is worth it.
So my mom and I sang, “drink the rain and ride the wind to me”
at the top of our lungs.
I know these kitchen dances are the stuff of dreams
(you learn this when you leave home)
until someone drinks one too many Old Fashioneds and starts to pick away at politics
and everything goes
slowly, then all at once
like the orange rind my mother unraveled,
like falling asleep,
like falling in love,
like getting drunk.
(okay, it was me.)
Sometimes you flick the lighter and then decide
you can do without the rest of it
You can savor that initial buzz.
When I watched my siblings walk arm in arm up the beach at midnight
Illuminated by the ferris wheel
Before the tide came up.
When I asked you to kiss me again
(“to see if it was real?”)
Before we had to make any choices.
because it was only Monday.
When I told you to leave the fire burning and get the whiskey
because the sun was setting and we shouldn’t miss this
Before you said that things would never be the same.
Before you said, “people warned me you would do this.”
Forgive me, I still haven’t learned the difference
between beautiful and important things.
Caroline (Higgins) Nyczak (’11) lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she spends the vast majority of her time teaching English Language Arts. You may also find her at barre exercise classes or playing (and losing) at bar trivia. She continues to be inspired by the energy and diversity of New York City and the beauty of that certain slant of light.