Never Listen to 7 Things 

Photo by Zoe

Photo by Zoe

Trying not to be sentimental in the last weeks of the last summer you’ll ever live at home is a futile and stifling effort. Not rebellious, even if you can take comfort in thinking so. Choking sentimentality like a dry pill will keep it tucked in your throat and only hurt more and bring back that orange ibuprofen ink when you finally take a sip and choke it down. But if you’re going to try and keep tears, nostalgia, memories, family, holidays, playmates, the bag of stuffed animals in the shed, the red mug she planted seeds in for you, the chipped paint on the sides of the car, your weight slowing down the razor scooter, the stickers on the backside of your bed, the razors you should have thrown out a year ago, the goats that live where there used to be flowers, and your heart at bay, there are a few steps you should follow. 

  1. Now is not the time to start wearing pearls or gold jewelry, even if they look good in the sun and remind you of Ashley from youtube’s bestdressed, keep it cold. Silver tones and better yet, plain, don’t look in the mirror too often or at the tan on your legs these things will remind you that summer is fleeting (Dad will remind you of this too, using those exact words

  2. Keep earbuds on hand if he or Mom or Grandmother or Sister or Brother or Friend ask you if younger ready for the changes that approach like wildfire). Deny that there is any change, and in the instance of these wildfires licking at the poison ivy along the back fence and swallowing those seven am deer (you’ve never smelled this before), cover your face and

  3. Evacuate. Run. Longboard up the hills that make your chest hurt, but if anything else hurts

  4. Repress those feelings. Start staying up late to watch movies from the nineties without happy endings, but not the sad ones either this. Is the age of apathy, this. Is the time to watch Heathers without remembering that one of the sixteen universities in your state’s public university system (not the one that you will attend, but that which your friends applied to, some will go, by the way do not remember that some of your friends will go, all your friends will go) was victim to the same kind of shooting, JD bomb extraordinaire— In fact, watch only clips of the Heathers musical online, and become as apathetic as the audience members, laugh at the sad parts—

  5. (away) Drink ginger tea while you sit up, find someone to talk to, someone who didn’t know the bad things or the good things (these were not in balance) of the last few years and will only talk in the present tense about today, about tomorrow, about standing still. Putting basil in the tea while it steeps will make it bitter without taking out the ginger bite, let the ginger

  6. Bite your tongue if you start to ask about plans for leaving, or if you want to make plans with the people you won’t see for months, five at the least — do not mention that you won’t see Samantha, Katherine, Dacia, Elizabeth for months, five at the least — and make plans of your own these plans cannot involve

  7. Visiting the house where you grew up (you’ve made this mistake already, driving around to finish Burger King soft serve before you stopped),

  8. Walking alone through the woods with or without music,

  9. Reading poetry that was rejected in a submissions process (emphasized if this poetry revisits bad times, good times, real times, or imagined times),

  10. Looking at pictures, any. pictures. that. you. took. yourself, or

  11. Crossing the street to pick up leaves that have already fallen from the tree, brown, remember that it is still July (for one more day but do not remember that then it will be August and that in August you will move, DENYDENYDENY).

  12. Keep only playlists of new music coming, and never. Never. Listen to Miley Cyrus’s 7 Things I Hate About You or you may

Find a new list coming out of your breath or steaming from your teacup or even from your ears in red smoke when Brother spills all of the pasta water down the drain when you’d said explicitly that you wanted to keep it for the sauce and you suddenly find that 

  1. Wearing pearls and gold jewelry bring back those photo collages you made with two girls, daydreaming about a world where things are ethereal always, brutal occasionally, but presiding by evil never and that you want to carry those things with you through IKEA as you buy the cheapest lamp without sacrificing ambience to the starkness of a new bedroom with only one

  2. Window and no room to play records loudly, blasting, you’ll never be home alone and you’ll miss making tea in the kitchen and still hearing Jack Jones crooning from the basement, taking the stairs two at a time. Swap earbuds for headphones with a cord long enough to dance and wrap yourself in plug in, plug home,

  3. Staying in and playing Mario Kart with Sister will only hurt if you lose. There are less than twenty days left for you to convince her to take the drift around the curves in Rainbow Road, this works as long as you look into the acceleration of the vehicle that you choose, this is the only racing away that you should be doing GET OUT OF MY WAY

  4. Peaches are fresh at the farmer’s market this time of year, and the placid straw hats, strawberry ice cream, even the lemonade stand that you can’t afford will remind you of the fields in some of Winona’s other movies, movies that make you cry (but that’s okay, she cried too when she won nominations for Academy Awards after making them), movies like How To Make an American Quilt (it’s okay if watching makes you remember that freshman year you cried giving a report on Maia Angelou or that she died the year before in the same city) and Little Women with so many

  5. Sisters might sit up and talk with you if you ask. They might also make Tik Toks while you drink a blue raspberry slushy (this is the flavor of summer and summer is fleeting, drink. Up) or watch Empire Records with you even though they hate it or talk about Dylan O’Brien and the other celebrities you think are hot (alternately, about how none of the boys in your hometown are ever worth

  6. Making plans with. Girls are different, girls might make plans and flake out but you do too remember that they might be equally adept at forgetting when things start to ache (it’s a slow ache, but you can’t pack your books yet because sitting down to decide between A Little Princess and Milk and Honey reminds you that before your world can grow it has to sink). Call her. Call her. Call her and ask if she’s having a good day or if she wants to walk around Target for fifteen minutes, sit in line at the Cookout for ten, and then in the parking lot between them for an hour or

  7. Visit the house you grew up in. Show her the pool that you watched men in yellow vests and hard hats build (you cannot be sure this is what they wore, but you’d like to be) and the pine trees that tower above the roof but that you once hugged and gave names, Little Suzie, Little Tim, all littler than you then or

  8. Walk together through the woods barefoot, talking about the places you came when someone broke your heart, came to listen to the water that kept running even when you thought you could never start again or

  9. Read the poems that were rejected because they were about the girls you grew up with and about the fact that he couldn’t stand the layers of an onion and wouldn’t peel back a single. coat. Of your outer paint or

  10. Take some pictures together, new ones to frame with the old ones, filtered pictures, RAW files or

  11. Tell her about that day last October when you walked up the hill to the building that you’d never explored to sit down and dry off in a creative writing class with only eight students only three that were serious about the subject, it was raining and you listened to Glen Campbell it was the first time you ever admitted to yourself that you might actually like autumn or

  12. Listen to the playlists that other people made you or that you made for other people, songs from 2007, 08, 09, 2010, that Sister will play when you’ve spent too long in InDesign to look at things without pica measurements lining your vision and let the girls let you feel

Rebellious, nostalgic, but never choked before you kiss your front porch and kettle goodbye.