Memory Box 2016

I’ve kept journals on and off for most of my life, but somewhere around the beginning of college I wanted a way to physically save memories. Words were helpful in preserving the way I felt at a particular moment, but I wanted something palpable. In the pre-college flurry, in the middle of hunting for different organizational supplies (because this year was going to be different, everything would have a place at last), I developed an idea. I purchased a few small plastic boxes and labeled them with the year. Throughout the course of the year, I would fill a box with scraps of paper, pieces of memories.

It worked. Better than I thought it would, if we’re being completely honest. The box from  is tucked away at home, the 2015 box is a mess of memories, and the 2016 box from this semester is nearly overflowing. Here are some of the things inside:

PostSecret was founded by Frank Warren in 2005, wherein people mail their secrets to him anonymously via a homemade post card. I went to the show with two of my best friends and we all literally laughed and cried as actors read off some of the secrets and online community responses to the secrets. After intermission, the actors read off secrets written by audience members. My favorite was: “My husband and I had sex on my boss’s desk, while she was away on vacation. I just made eye contact with her in the audience.” All of the secrets can be found online at:

Every year around Valentine’s Day, flowers can be purchased in the sub as a fundraiser for one of the sororities. This year, Nathan sent me one. The card reads: “You’re a good friend… I guess…” TRUE FRIENDSHIP GOALS.


Every semester Ubiquitous They puts on a comedy show. I rushed from one event to the show this semester and wasn’t the least bit disappointed. There was one specific sketch that has stuck with me: A TV host announces to an excited girl that they’ve found her mother who has been lost at sea. She begins jumping up and down as a crew of people carry out her dead mother’s body. On my left, tears were leaking out of Thomas’s eyes as he laughed. On my right, Banji had one hand covering his mouth in a frozen state of shock.

Here is a list of everything else in the box:

  • My ticket and program from RENT, which was the student theater production this semester.
  • A sticker for Crosscurrents. It is watercolored blue and apparently Crosscurrents was founded in 1958?
  • A Valentine’s day card from my grandparents.
  • A list of “Things I Know” that was originally made as a reference point to spring off of for poetry. The list claims such things as: “the Ferris Wheel was designed for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair” and “my first word was ‘hi.’”
  • A tie-dye postcard advertising WORD STOCK 2016, which put on by the English department on the 25th of April.
  • Sketches from a workshop put on by Krista Franklin, a visual poet. She had everyone dig through magazines and lead us to create our own visual poetry. It was interesting and a lot of fun, particularly because I haven’t made a collage since I was in elementary school.
  • A piece from one of those magazines, that I thought was interesting. Underlined is a quote from one of the people being interviewed: “Gift. For not drowning.” Not sure why it sprung out at me, but it did.
  • My notes from the Jonestown Survivor speaker. It was an amazing presentation and I have so much sympathy for the amount of long-term trauma being in Jonestown caused.
  • A letter from Maddy, that claims: “You are a wonderful person, and I think everything becomes better when you are around. Even at 9:30 in the morning.” Apparently, Emily compared the letter I got from Maddy to the letter she got — which began: “Dear fartface.”
  • My wristband from the dance put on by Beta, with my name spelled Telena.
  • Bits of curly ribbon that were tied onto the fruit basket Emily got for her birthday. We sat out on Todd Field, soaking up the sun and eating strawberries.
  • Adam Lewis’s name tag from Career Fair. Not sure why I have it, tbh.
  • An exercise from the Suicide Prevention and Awareness workshop that was put on this semester. We were tasked with originally writing down twenty-four words that described our life. That was slowly broken down, so we were left with one word. Mine? Laughter.
  • The bag tag that I got over spring break, when I went down to Vancouver to visit Maddy and meet up with Emily.
  • My wristband from the first time I went to the Museum of Glass.
  • A poster advertising Crosscurrents.
  • Notes made by Banji, from back when we were coming up with theoretical short film plot lines.
  • My receipt from January, when I bought some of my textbooks at the bookstore. Grand total from this one trip? $469.97.
  • Notes someone from my poetry class took on one of my poems. A sestina, titled “Generalized,” that I wasn’t sure how I felt about, but everyone else seemed to love.
  • A card from the Office of Finance given to me for Student Appreciation Week.
  • A letter from my best friend that took me way to long to respond to.
  • The program from Underground Sound’s 2016 Spring Concert, which was amazing.

Recap: Spring Break 2016

As Spring Break 2016 comes to a close, I realized that it went by way faster that I thought it would. I stayed on campus for most of break and partly assumed that it would drag on. I couldn’t have been more wrong. As a way to preserve break and catalogued it, I decided to list most of what I did below.


  • Around 4PM my eleven year old cousin, Ting, FaceTimed me in the sub. She and I played M.A.S.H. and much to the disappointment of my roommate, her future career wasn’t “garbage man.”
  • Friends forgot the sub closed early and we all went to Memos. Surprised someone with carne asada fries and haven’t seen anyone that happy in a while.
  • Then got in a crowd of people and went to Safeway, where Ting called me again, to claim my friends were: seven, twenty-nine, and forty. (They are all twenty.)


  • Downloaded The Life of Pablo and have zero regrets.
  • Made brownies and had to substitute flaxseed eggs for actual eggs, but it was definitely worth it.
  • Dinner was pizza at Farrelli’s. And was delicious.


  • Toured the Museum of Glass and watched the visiting artist create an octopus. Advice: Go. Do it. It’s free on Sunday’s with a student ID. Also, if you don’t have a car, be sure to get an ORCA card from ASUPS.
  • Watched Groundhog Day for the first time, 10/10 recommend.


  • Oh, hey. Homework is still a thing over break. Did some of that.
  • Watched Fuller House and was disappointed.
  • Went to Krispy Kreme for the second time ever and had a donut. Immediately ate said donut.


  • Slept in for too many hours, but it was much needed and much enjoyed.
  • Video chatted with a friend who goes to school in Pennsylvania. (Nick, I miss you!)
  • Discovered a new sandwich: turkey, bacon, and havarti on whole wheat.


  • Convinced some friends to go on a walk down to the waterfront. We took our time and wandered around the Chinese Reconciliation Park. Then we walked up Puget Park, hung out at the playground, and spun around too much, before walking back to school.
  • Discovered that Wednesdays are bowling leagues and so you can’t go bowling in the evening.


  • Was very set on not doing anything. Met up with Nathan for breakfast, then we headed to the library for a new setting. Around three we headed back to the sub for food and ran into some friends. It was sunny and beautiful out and Gabe wanted to go take photos and so we went on a walk.
  • Down past the pedestrian bridge, if you follow the cobblestone driveway, there is a beautiful look-out point onto the water and the city.
  • I’d recommend wearing layers, because the wind can make you so so so cold after a while, but Gabe got some pretty good pictures out of the day. They can all be found here


  • Took the AmTrak down to Vancouver, where I met up with my friend Maddy. From there, we went to Portland, where we met up with Emily, who was driving up from Bend, OR.
  • Finished reading How to Fly a Horse by Kevin Ashton, which was much better than expected. Definitely a book I would read again and recommend to other people.
  • We spent the day exploring the Pearl District and eating all of the good food.
  • Raided the men’s t-shirt section at Target. Purchased the same NASA shirt that Emily has. No regrets.
  • Breakfast for dinner with Not Sub eggs was fantastic.


  • Explored the Saturday Market and waited in a long, but fast-paced line for Voodoo donuts. Whose donuts were far superior to Krispy Kreme.
  • Met up with Emily’s friend who goes to Reed at Reed, where we were given a tour of the research reactor.
  • On the quest for dinner, we ended up going to the Met, then to Memos, then to Safeway. Food was found!


  • Spent most of the afternoon in the sub talking to friends who had been gone over break. Discovered Chili only took wavy panoramic pictures in Paris.
  • Did that homework that I didn’t bother finishing on Monday.

4AM in the sub

I had a self-imposed bedtime as a child. More often than not, as the night progressed, I would inform my mother that I was going to sleep, before brushing my teeth and crawling in bed.

Despite this, one of my most distinct memories from childhood was the first time I stayed up all night. I was seven and spending the night at my grandma’s house with two of my cousins, Eli and Ethan, who were seven and five, respectively. We played out the normal night-time routine, an attempt to convince Grandma that nothing was up. Both of them dozed off as Annie lit up the dark room, but they both woke up as the yellow credits flash across the black screen. We crept downstairs, pushing together coffee tables and chairs to make a fort in the low-light of the living room. Huddled under blankets, propped up on pillows, we spent the rest of the evening watching Spongebob Squarepants and applauding ourselves for staying awake. When picking me up the next day, Mom mentioned that I was rather crabby and in a tired haze I refused to tell her we hadn’t gone to sleep.

Other than that singularity, my sleep schedule has been routine. It has adjusted itself slightly for pre-teen yes I’m going to sleep in on the weekends for a little too long and occasional late-night homework sessions; yet, even in college, I purposefully make an effort to be asleep before midnight. In a parallel structure to that childhood memory, some of my most distinct memories at Puget Sound have been when I’ve broken that quota.

Standing under an overhang, dreading the late-night rain, and talking with Nick, a group of girls wandering to the Cellar looked at us and said, “You guys are such a cute couple. Just kidding, you’re probably brother and sister.” Sitting in the piano lounge, listening to Carley play, a group walking past began dancing and gave her a round of applause. Curling up on a couch and helping Emily sketch out a poem on a crumpled napkin. Priorities seem to shift as night progresses and personalities reflect that.

I’m more open, more honest, late at night. Willing to talk for hours, because at first we were in the Cellar and then it closed and it’s four a.m. and we’re still awake, sitting in an upstairs booth at the sub. Bright lights reflect off the white-washed wooden ceiling and the only other people present were downstairs cleaning. In the faint background noise of vacuums, I could see the reflection of my face in the dark of the window. I slumped down further in my seat while the clock ticked, but I didn’t leave, didn’t want to. And I don’t even remember what we talked about. It could have been nothing, but I’m inclined to think it was everything.


  • Deadline: March 23rd.
  • What you can submit: 4 ART, 3 POETRY, 2 PROSE, 1 OTHER.

As you may know, Crosscurrents is Puget Sound’s student-run literary magazine. All of the submissions are made by and voted on by students. All submissions are viewed anonymously; therefore, a completely honest critique is made. If you are submitting artwork, there are photoshoots to have the work professionally photographed Monday (3/7) from 4-6PM and/or Thursday (3/10) from 5-7PM. Anyone can submit, by sending their writing/art to Members of Crosscurrents meet every week and share opinions on the week’s submissions. After all of the submissions are decided upon, the magazine is complied and distributed.

Crosscurrents is an amazing and easy way to have published work. The more work submitted, the better the magazine will be. So, please, submit to Crosscurrentssubmit crosscurrents poster

An Argument for Poetry

I have a clear memory of six years old, sitting cross-legged on the floor in my classroom, cutting out the pieces to the acrostic poem I had written a few days before. There was a precision to my gluing, a desire to get the lines exactly right. I forgot about it for years, let the memory drift to the back corners of my brain. This poem, I suppose, is the first evidence I have of poetry in my life.

Here the the actual text from the poem I wrote to my mom in second grade:

Imagining is great!

Ladies are good.

Yarn is fun!
Object are great!

have a Marry day!


From there, my love of poetry progressed: cataloged in a Mother’s Day poem I wrote in fifth grade, typed up in Comic Sans, used the wrong your/you’re and seventh grade, walking through the concrete hallways reciting “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe from memory. I continued to dabble in poetry throughout high school, writing about this and that. In the margins of my calculus notes there are dashes of phrases, half-written poems that someday I’d get back to.

It’s important to study literature, because it gives a deeper insight to meanings. Analyzing English gives perspective of the surrounding world, a way to perceive emotions in a different way. In turn, poetry is an extension of this. It falls into the gap, between the universal and the personal. Meaning shifts from person to person, experience to experience, but there’s nearly always something someone can connect to.

For me, poetry is a way to express emotions. I let it center around the words I never say, the memories that come back, from time to time. Poetry is a creative way to capture an experience and I cannot stress how important I think that is.

So write. Write bad poetry, good poetry. Things that (don’t) rhyme, things with rhythm. Make up a story, make up an experience. Practice enjambment, practice and fail and succeed and know that it’s okay. Let yourself relive that memory when it comes back. Write it down so it’s raw and real and important, because it matters.

Here is an example of a poem I wrote more recently, as a way to show that my poetry has at least slightly improved since second grade:

School Picture Day, 2002

Six-year-old me didn’t yet have the world on her shoulders,
but she had an atlas brain. Curly red hair forming ringlets
around an unfreckled face. Back when tears were easy to spring
to the surface and I still had an underbite smile. Career option:
astronaut princess and Grandma taught me cross-stitch.
The Magic Tree House series, scraped knees, Girl Scout
uniform, and I didn’t know what headache meant. Tracing
the alphabet over and over on sunny days and I could see the purple
slide through the chain-link fence and windows.

I ate kiwis until my mouth puckered shut and I’d stretch my lips
into a grin, stand in line waiting to go into class with a heavy
metal song stuck in my head because Dad played his
music loud and would sing with the windows rolled down,
elbow resting against the door, hand hitting roof
edge with every guitar strum. Stand in line in a dark green
velvet dress tucking pistachio shells into its lace trim

because the future was undefined, for six-year-old me.

Connection to Place

Traveling back to school, navigating airports and delayed flights, always seems to kick-start the inevitable rush of being back. Running to gates and staring out the window of the plane as the sun starts to fade below the clouds are the first steps to finally putting off studying and bumping into friends around campus. There’s something relaxing in the familiarity of it all, something that keeps me up a little bit later the night before the flight.

It’s always a hassle though. I fly out of one small airport that has one gate and one rickety plane that sounds so loud that it must not be good. are you sure this is safe??? to San Francisco, with foggy skies and a multitude of delays. I came prepared this time, though. A half-knitted scarf; a book I had barely started*; podcasts I had yet to listen to**; and a lunchbox filled with an assortment of snacks.

I found myself talking to the guy sitting next to me. We had both been staring down the aisle, watching the flight attendant fiddle with bags. She opened up an overhead bin to tuck a strap into it. By the time she managed to close it, the fabric had fallen out again. I glanced at him: “Did you see…”

He grinned and nodded, “I’m glad someone else caught that.”

The plane started moving along the runway and we settled into an amicable silence. The plane stopped. The lights went off. A static voice came on the speaker and said that there was some sort of technically difficulty. They were working on it. We would just have to wait a bit. The lights would come on in a minute.

“How long do you think it’ll take us to get to Seattle?” he asked.

“I feel like we’ll be there within five hours.”

He informed me that I jinxed us and if we didn’t make it there it’d definitely be my fault. We fell into a steady rhythm of asking each other questions. His name was Lenny, a nurse living in southern California. He traveled to Thailand, worked in fly fishing for years, and was visiting his brother’s eight-month-old son. In turn, I told him about my inability to walk on flat surfaces, that I like my tea with no milk or sugar, and when I was little I wanted to be both a princess and an astronaut.

We had fallen back into silence when he asked me what my favorite place in the world is. Numerous places fell into my mind, places that give me the feeling I get when I’m sitting up late at night talking to friends and when I stand overlooking the Sound and I feel connected to everything.

“There’s this place, about forty-five minutes from my house. Off of an old highway, a few miles down from the campground I’ve been going to since I was five. The campground where I read Harry Potter; sat cross-legged in the entry kiosk talking to the camp ranger; swung from a rope swing and cannon-balled into the river. A few miles down there’s this small-loop trail, carved between a forest-floor of redwood sorrel and ferns that stretch up to my chin.

“Part of Star Wars Return of the Jedi was filmed there and there’s this tree trunk with its root structure spanning fifteen feet high. Off of the main path there is a smaller grove within the grove. There’s a sole big leaf maple tree with moss growing up the side of the trunk. A green glow is cast on everything and I can’t define exactly what it is but it’s something.”

I haven’t been to Cheetham Grove in months, but I still feel a connection to the place. I think that’s how I’ll feel about Puget Sound after I graduate. Even when I’m not on campus, I’ll still feel a part of something greater.

cheetham grove

The big leaf maple tree in Cheetham Grove, December 2014.

*The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

**Dear Hank & John, Filler Podcast, and the Mortified Podcast.

Things Learned This Semester

The semester seems to have moved faster than usual. As I’m sitting in the airport, headed for home, writing this, and despite the gray clouds covering the sky and finals being over, it still feels like it should be September. So much has happened, these last few months, and it still seems absurd that in less than eight hours I will be home.

Here are a few of the things I’ve learned this semester:

  1. Resist the urge to just do the bare minimum. It’s easy to skim over readings, take half-hearted notes. It doesn’t matter if the professor is wonderful or terrible, you’ll get less out of the class if you don’t put in the effort. Thinking critically will allow you to evaluate the world in a different light. It will enable you to think of other people complexly.
  2. Write down funny quotes that your friends say. Maybe add context, for later purposes. But you’ll look back at those quotes and be reminded of the moment and that is important.
  3. You should go watch school sports. This was a strange one for me, because I don’t particularly dislike sports, in fact I rather enjoy watching both soccer and basketball. Much to my own surprise, I manage to get wrapped up in the game, in the way the players interact with each other. Still, until this semester I somehow managed to not go to a single sporting event. (I know, I know.) I suppose I’m just saying: try something new. Something that you aren’t sure whether or not you’ll like. Maybe you’ll be surprised.
  4. Pretzels dipped in Nutella is delicious.
  5. Don’t be afraid of being honest, of being blunt. People have a way of dancing around the truth and never really saying what they want to say. Don’t do that. Don’t be afraid of what other people will think, let them know what you’re thinking.
  6. Sometimes the timing just isn’t right.
  7. Space out your dinning dollars, but know that if you get to the end of the semester and have none, your friends with extra will be more than happy to buy you food.
  8. Go on walks. Tacoma is truly beautiful. Go look at the houses, at the Little Lending Library’s scattered across the streets, at the Sound.
  9. Give your friend’s hugs.
  10. Talk to new people. They’re nice. You’ll probably have something in common with them. Make an effort to make new friends, they’ll help you gain a different perspective on college.
  11. Don’t forget about your old friends, though. Make them know they’re important.
  12. Get off campus. Walk to the Met, explore Seattle, go to Frisko Freeze late at night in your pajamas, and wander around Point Defiance.
  13. Read The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan; “Some Extensions on the Sovereignty of Science” by Alberto Rios; On Writing by Stephen King; and The Sheltering Desert by Henno Martin.
  14. Remember that it’s the little things that don’t seem important that matter the most. Those stupid moments, those times when you’re just laughing, eating breakfast with friends. Those moments are the foundations to a friendship.
  15. Cry when you need to cry. And don’t be afraid of crying in front of other people. Your friends care about you, they want to help you. They want you to feel better as much as you want to feel better.
  16. Let yourself have lip synch battles with your friends, even if you’re in a semi-public place. Also: improv rap battles.
  17. Don’t put off things until the last minute and get a good night’s sleep. Especially before tests.
  18. Email your teachers from high school. I read this poem in high school and I could only remember a few lines (“My student wrote star smoke, star love, star cape… / into poem after poem and told me once that her father / never said he loved her”) and pointlessly spent hours attempted to google the lines to figure it out. Eventually, I decided to email my high school English teacher, as I read the poem in her Creative Writing class junior year. She wonderfully emailed me back the poem and asked me how school was going. Don’t loose those connections.
  19. Have weird conversations, have deep conversations.
  20. Know that you don’t know everything. You’ll never know everything. And that’s okay.

Don’t Forget to Explore

Every walk I took last year had a purpose: going to Bartells, the Met, Safeway. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, I suppose, but it limited my impressions of Tacoma. I never bothered to wander around, to explore. To walk down to the water front, to step on the Fall leaves with a purposeful crunch. I was more caught up in the action of Doing Something, to just be.

When I was younger, I would go on walks with my mother, our neighbors, my aunt — we would walk to the beach and I would jump in the waves. We would walk to the park and I would stand on the edge of the bay, amongst the European beach grass, while my shoes became coated in muddy sand, and look out at the juxtaposition of the two nearby towns. I’d watch the cars drive past on the highway, while I walked on the railing of the railroad tracks, my arms outstretched to keep myself from falling.

Somewhere in the years I lost that and somehow this year I gained it back.

I stood on the front steps of the Cushman Substation building and pulled my shoulders up, while scrunching my nose because this is creepy, guys. I stopped at the Little Lending Library on Union Street and looked through it, pulling out a few of the books and reading passages, before continuing on my way. I threw my hands up in the air while walking up a hill, because we were only halfway there. Petted a cat that was weaving through the bars of a house that was up for sale. Wandered through the playground of an abandoned elementary school and read off the graffiti scribbled in Sharpie on the yellow and green plastic structure. I went to the pedestrian bridge and looked down at the trees below, the way the sunlight hit the green and made it more vibrant than usual. All the way to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and back, my hands and nose and head cold, but smiling because look at the sunset. Down to the waterfront, where, standing there in the late Fall wind, you feel like you’re somehow connected to everything.

It’s nearly the end of the semester and I know it’s easy to get caught up in the stress of homework, the stress of college, but don’t forget the big picture and don’t forget to explore.

The view from the Tacoma Narrow's Bridge.

The view from the Tacoma Narrow’s Bridge.

Four: Memories at Point Defiance

Despite its location so close to campus, I’ve only been to Point Defiance four times.

Time One: The Rose Garden

It was the Saturday of Fall Break, my freshman year, and it was the only time I’ve ever used the ever-handy Saturday Shuttle service campus has to offer. There were five of us, sitting comfortably in the van, and the two students driving gave us cookies as they drove us. We stayed in the front section of the park — wandering through the rose garden and taking pictures of the flowers, pictures of us together, blurry pictures, and pictures in crisp color.

We stayed in the section for over an hour, pacing back and forth between everything, trying to imprint it all in our brains. Eventually, though, we had our fill. We walked around the pond, took more photos (the ducks in the pond, the changing of the leaves from deep green to burnt orange), and avoided being in the wedding pictures that were being taken.

We ended the day with the ever-popular game of frisbee. A seemingly stereotypical choice, that probably wasn’t the best idea because none of us had played in years. I think we spent more time running in a desperate attempt to catch the disc then we actually spent playing the game. Nonetheless, we had a good time.

Kathryn and Talena, definitely posing, but letting out genuine laughs.

Kathryn and Talena, definitely posing, but letting out genuine laughs.

Time Two: With the (Friend’s) Parents (and Grandmother)

Spring, 2015. Parent’s weekend.

Claire’s parents had come up from L.A., bringing her grandmother in tow.

We all ended up going to breakfast together, four of us crammed into the back seat of their rent-a-car as we made our way to Proctor District. Claire and her mother talked to each other while splitting pancakes and eggs. Claire’s father bonded with Gaea over their shared love of jazz music. Claire’s grandmother told me I had nice hair and asked me what my major was and told me I had nice hair again. (Actual quote: “Has anyone ever asked you about buying your hair?”) Then, after discovering where in Northern California I was from, she asked me if I knew “that one restaurant. The famous one.” She seemed thrilled when I finally managed to guess where she was talking about. (The Samoa Cookhouse, okay eggs, overpriced dinner, good for large family functions.)

It was the type of day where the sun couldn’t decide whether or not it was going to peak through the clouds. The type of day where the rain flew sideways in the wind and you felt like you could fly. We piled back into the car. The heater was cranked on and the windows steamed while rain pattered the windows.

“Where are we going?” Claire’s dad asked, turning this way and that randomly down the winding streets. There was no immediate answer, no immediate desire to go back to campus, but no real solution as to where. I don’t know who came up with the suggestion of Point Defiance — maybe Claire? — but one way or another that became our destination.

“Where is this place?” Claire’s dad asked. “And what’s it called again? Point Conception?” Claire looked the type of annoyed where you are trying to hide your amusement while Gaea and I hid our smiles in pressed together lips.

We made it there (eventually) and ended up driving around the five mile loop. We stopped at Owen’s Beach, deciding that it would be a good idea to stretch our legs. We were out of the car for less than five minutes, still walking towards the Sound, when it started pouring. Understandably, we rushed back into the car, and continued on our way.

For someone battling the cold and the rain and the general confusion of being in a new place, it was understandable that Claire’s dad got confused. The exit signs come up quick and it is easy to pass them. We ended up driving around the loop at least three times, each time somehow missing the exit.

Claire’s dad: “We might actually be stuck here.”

Claire’s grandma: “At least we have each other.”

Dubbed by Gaea, "Awkward woods pic!"  From left to right: Claire, Talena, Gaea.

Dubbed by Gaea, “Awkward woods pic!”
From left to right: Claire, Talena, Gaea.

Time Three: With my Mother

One of the side-effects of living your whole life in a small, rural town, is that you aren’t used to driving in densely populated areas. The first time coming up here, my mom was nervous, to say the least. We didn’t do much wandering beyond campus, I think we only even went to Proctor District once. It was all very scheduled, she was on a time-crunch to get back home and I was only thinking about the fact that in a number of days I would be in college.

When she came back in May there was less of a rush. I was keen to show her parts of Tacoma and she was more than willing to see it all. We each got sandwiches from the Met, ginger ale, and one of The Cookie to share.

We went to Point Defiance, sat on a park bench, and had our first meal together in months.


My mom and I post-picnic dinner.

Time Four: To the Sound

It was something we had semi-seriously joked about doing for months. Let’s jump in the Sound! Do the Puget Plunge! I am honestly still surprised that it actually happened. Maggie sat on the shoreline of Owen’s Beach, I waded in to my knees, bouncing up on my toes as the swell from boats came near.

Claire, Maddy, and Gaea had more of an all-or-nothing attitude about the situation. Freezing in their bathing suits before getting in, I know for a fact that the water was less than enjoyable. It was more of a, “this is so stupid, but fun and these are the memories they were telling us about making” type of moment for them.

With the three of them shivering, Maggie and I mildly concerned and mildly amused, we went back to the car. Cranked up the heater. Drank hot chocolate. Laughed.

Maddy, freezing and looking absolutely adorable.

Maddy, freezing and looking absolutely adorable.

Three Semesters In

It’s one of the first things you do when you decide on a college. One of the first things you do when touring a college. A way to say: I am here! A declaration of support for the school, for the memories you’ll make here. It’s the awkward, slightly embarrassed feeling that overcomes you, as you stand and smile and people walk past you. It’s jumping up and stretching your mouth into the widest smile you can manage. Standing on top. Sitting in front.

The picture equivalent to the college sweatshirt you wear with pride senior year of high school. The clarification that, no, it’s pronounced “puge-it” not “pug-it.” It’s the grass that is always green and slightly damp. The flowers that are always blooming.

I don’t know why I didn’t take a picture when I first toured the school, summer before senior year of high school. The sun was high that day and campus was absolutely gorgeous. On admitted students day there were so many people around and I was so determined to decide, is this the right place for me? to bother with pictures. The only picture I have of that day is me walking in front of Jones, it’s blurry and I’m laughing, because my mother had been lost moments before. (“It’s the brick building,” someone had told her. She had looked at him flabbergasted: “They’re all brick.”) Move-in day freshman year I was too focused on getting everything unpacked. Having my garden-level room feel like home. Meeting people, putting in an effort to make new friends for the first time in years. Coming back for sophomore year, my mom must’ve mentioned it a half a dozen times. “Talena, let’s get a picture in front of the sign!” I nodded at her every time, but never made an effort to actually get the picture taken.

I was cognizant of the fact that it is slightly embarrassing, standing up there. It is much less like a goofy picture of you and and your friends and more like a statement: Here we are. It wasn’t until yesterday, while we were waiting for someone to run back for a jacket, that the thought of getting a picture in front of the sign came back to me.

“Gaea, let me get a picture of you in front of the sign,” I proclaimed, pulling out my phone.

She gave me a flat look. “You should be in it too.”

So there we stood at last, grinning and laughing and feeling a bit like idiots in front of the sign, in front of the school we were so proud to go to.