I remember exactly where I was when my boyfriend
called and said I’m moving to Minnesota – it was 7 PM
on a Thursday evening and I had just sat down
at my desk for another night of chemistry homework
and instant hot chocolate with mini marshmallows
mixed in. I had the phone on speaker, and I
picked up my cup and traced its geometric design
with one finger, each movement painfully exact,
slowly deliberate. When I was nine I stepped
on a cholla sticker, and as I sat on the kitchen counter
crying while my mom tugged it out with a pair
of pliers, I said I hate this desert, why do people
live here? My bedroom window at the time
had a palo verde that scratched against it
when the wind rose and my bedroom window
the summer I was twenty-one was ten floors up
and faced the county hospital. I don’t know
how many people came to that hospital with
cholla stickers or squirrel bites, with
alcohol poisoning or tarantula hairs.
I have never driven in snow, but I have raced
dust storms, I have huddled under my bed while
tropical storms whipped the walls with their rain.
What I adore is not the Gulf of Mexico, with its endless
waves and bathtub-warm water. What I adored
was the arroyo outside my high school that flooded
after monsoons and that we would float
boats made from Popsicle sticks upon. What I
adored, although I didn’t know it then,
were the habanero plants and rosebushes
that my mom somehow grew in the rocky
desert soil. I thought all this, I thought
1600 miles, I thought 22 years, but all I said
was Minnesota? and put my cup down
on my desk, next to my statuette
of Our Lady of Guadalupe,
which my parents gave me when I was thirteen.



Last night, as I was saving a file to my desktop,
its name suddenly reminded me of an acquaintance
from high school and the short stories he used to
send me via email (this was back when people
sent short stories via email.)
He’s a chemist now,
or maybe he writes music, or maybe he’s one
of those people who spends their life savings
on a sailboat and goes whale watching, although
being 25 I’m not sure he has any life savings
to speak of. The point is that
I haven’t spoken to him in maybe 7 years
and I would have written my thoughts of him off
as a product of the late hour, except this
has been happening more and more to me lately:
small things tie back to earlier experiences
in my life, sort of like when I was learning to sew
and would tuck the end of the thread under
a previous stitch. French fries remind me
of failed auditions, the smell of fresh rain
reminds me of bacterial cultures, beading water
on my shoulders in the shower brings me right back
to the first person I kissed, how my hands felt
tangled in his hair. I wonder if this is what it feels like
to get older. I wonder
if I will end up like Colonel Matterson: Mexico is
the walnut, the hazelnut, the acorn. I wonder if
my purple shirt will always remind me of my organic
chemistry professor or if, like the alkynes and benzene rings
I doodle across my notebooks, its brightness will
eventually soften, blurred by water and time.