The light was still on in the toy room, where I slept this past summer. I just lay on my mattress staring at the side of the shoebox. I was too tired to do anything else. Or maybe I was just comfortable looking at it like that. But finally, I propped myself on one elbow and flipped open the lid. I smiled up at myself. I was in a pink sequined dress, posing in third position with my hands on my hips. The next picture was the one of Kyle and me at the banquet breakfast POPS Choir went to our first morning in Disneyworld. Then a picture of me in my blonde wig and red and white polka-dotted dress, just before the closing night of Anything Goes. The fourth was one of my senior pictures—I am looking at the ground, the trees by the creek burning green behind me.
The day after I got home from Rexburg, I told Mom I needed to go to the bank to make a deposit. I climbed into our little gray Camry and as I drove away, I watched the dust rise up behind me in the rearview mirror. I made my way to the bank eventually, but first, I drove up the red brick main street to my high school. School had been released for summer break a week before, so I knew no one would be there, but I looked around and behind me anyway before parking under the single tree in the Manhattan High’s parking lot. This had been the meeting place before and after our choir concerts and musicals and ACT tests and rehearsals. Kyle walked me out to this Camry parked under this tree one morning after the show choir workshop POPS put on for the resident grade school kids.
I love Manhattan, especially in the summer. I love our family weed-pulling fiestas at 6:30 in the morning, when the air is in-between the coolness of evening and the sticky humidity of day. I love running on dirt roads that are familiar, out past the old stone schoolhouse and the Manuels' red barn. There's a distinct smell there; I don't really know how to describe it, and I don't know exactly where it comes from--maybe it's the pasture grass or the dew or the leftover rain water in the ditches on either side of the road. But it's a sweetish, familiar smell. I love hanging out at City Park or AJ's Pizza at sunset with high school friends. I love going to the 30-person singles branch on Sundays.
Sometimes, though, I don't love memories. They usually make today feel empty. And memories constitute much of my living time when I'm in Manhattan. It's hard to move forward there because the past is so prevalent for me in that town. My mind plays the "remember when" game as I drive to work or walk into Dillons grocery store or listen to bands play during Arts in the Park, and especially when I drive past that red-brick building at the top of the hill on Poyntz Avenue. Manhattan means high school for me, and as a junior in college, I just feel the need to move on from there for good. Someday, I'll need to move on from Rexburg for good too. Places like these cannot be permanent. It's all a part of moving forward, moving forward. They have their time slot, their soliloquy in this Play of Life if you will, but there's no going back. That would screw up the plot.