I want to grow up moving from town to town.

            I’ll always be the new girl, and the third grade teacher will spell my name wrong, “Chrissy” instead of “Christy,” and the eighth-grade guidance counselor will give me someone else’s schedule by accident, so I’ll have to go around and return all the books I got on the first day, except the Earth Science book Mrs. Meinhardt gave me since Mrs. Meinhardt happens to still be my teacher in my real schedule just like she was in the wrong one. I’ll lose one irreplaceable thing every time we pack and unpack again: my adjustable ruby-colored birth stone ring in Tallahassee, my cat Gonzo in Phoenix, the Eiffel Tower keychain my Aunt Susan brought back for me when we leave Spokane. I’ll ride in the middle seat of the U-Haul, the vinyl and soaked-in-smoke smell of the front seat making me sick. I’ll listen for the radio to turn to static and for the pop in my ears as the U-Haul struggles up the hills.

            I’ll call my old friend from new phone numbers and say, “Himrsbonkowskithisisnicoleiskylethere?” and it will take Mrs. Bonkowski a beat to recognize my voice. Kyle will say she’s doing nothing and then have to get off the phone because she’s grounded.

            I’ll keep notes in a journal and write “Things That Happened” in Sharpie on the front, and I’ll retreat to my room and play guitar when I don’t make friends and imagine I’ll become a sexy singer-songwriter booked into every club someday. Or I’ll read War and Peace, though I won’t be the kind of person who goes around telling people she’s read War and Peace, I’ll just be the kind who can sort of reference it someday in a way that makes it clear I know what I’m talking about without coming off as pretentious or anything.

            While some things will be lost, other things will accumulate: a stack of library cards, worn-out Nikes, already-filled in Houghton Mifflin Phonics workbook I’ll use to play school, house keys I’ll keep on a lanyard I’ll braid with Miss Fischer, the third-grade student teacher who smells like mint and winks when I get an answer right.  

            Say we move because my father trains infantrymen in the Army, because he coaches minor league baseball, or builds housing developments where the streets are all named after birds. Grouse Drive, Bayville, New Jersey, 08721. Cardinal Court, Pleasant Hill, Iowa, 50327. Say my mother can make order from chaos, can change the spaces we inhabit with bright throw pillows and fresh paint, can calm my nerves the night before yet another first day of school with a glass of cold water and a plate of Ritz with cream cheese. Say we never move because of broken promises, half-finished business, or unpaid debts.

            When the Internet is invented, I’ll make an avatar of myself who has a whole life that I control, who has avatar friends and avatar changes of clothes in her avatar closet as long as I make sure I have enough coins and extra lives. I’ll earn extra coins and extra lives by landing on my feet as the repeating 2D landscape full of distractions scrolls to the right.

            Grocery store names in the South and Midwest are silly: Piggly Wiggly, Winn-Dixie. Hy-Vee. In the Northeast, they’re more business-like: Shop Rite, Pathmark, Stop&Shop. I’ll have to keep track: in North Carolina, they’ll like to talk about the weather before they’ll sell you a pack of gum. In New Jersey, they’ll just want you to give them the money and get on with it. In Iowa they’ll call bags for your food “sacks,” and receipts “tickets.” In Florida, ponytails with scrunchies will still be extremely cool, but in Massachusetts I’ll need to go and get a pack of plain, thin black rubber bands immediately or else wear my hair down.

            On my birthday, we’ll always go to IHOP for pancakes for dinner, and I’ll put every kind of syrup on my pancakes so all the flavors bleed together with the melted butter: blueberry, strawberry, and maple until my stomach hurts.

            Every high school gym teacher will make us run the mile. Every high school track will be 400 meters. Some will be surrounded with brand new vinyl-sided field houses and aluminum bleachers, and some with shit-smelling port-o-potties and splintered bleachers, but they’ll all be the same distance around. In every class, there will be one boy who takes gym class very, very seriously, who argues about the flag football rules and serves the volleyball like a scud missile. He’ll try to beat me at the mile test, thinking I’m slow because I half-assed Hooverball, but I’ll surge past him in the back 200 meters of the second lap and never look back.




Katie Runde recently moved with her husband from New York City to Los Angeles. She is a graduate of the Warren Wilson College MFA program

 I moved four times in the last eight years. When you move, you've got to look at all your stuff and decide what's absolutely necessary and what you haven't used/worn/taken out of the box from the last move. You say goodbye to a place that's not going to be yours in the same way anymore, where you'll be a visitor the next time you come back. You unpack all that stuff and start over in the new place: all new people, new landmarks, new work, new geography and culture. It's hard enough as a grown-up. The character in this story is trying to figure out what can remain constant for her in the face of constant upheaval.