This is my friend’s dad, Bob, mowing the lawn in the early summer after my junior year. Sometimes after school, I would sit on the swing sets in their backyard and watch him mow the lawn with great precision. After high school, Bob and my friend’s mom got a divorce, and the swing sets were taken down.
My parents have a collection of fish paintings that hang around our dinner table back home. When I was being scolded, or if there was some fight going on, I would look at the paintings of fish surrounding my parents’ heads, and I wouldn’t be able to take anything they said that seriously.
The dishes my parents prepared always appeared grotesque to me and my little brother, no matter what they were serving.
I think my mom always knew when I snuck out, even though she never stopped me.
I grew up outside Chicago. There was a patch of grass that looked like a wheat field growing next to the elevated railroad tracks where my friends and I would go to listen to music. We’d walk along the tracks, toward the glowing cityscape.
One of my favorite places to go was the roller rink, because you could tell that the only thing that had changed about it over the decades was the music they played.
Some of the most vivid memories I have of my friends back home are of them in their bedrooms—the places they sought refuge to get through the experience of being a young, dependent person. Surrounding themselves with objects they collected and cherished gave them the illusion that the places were their own.
Anyone can transform the mundane into something magical.
Claire Dain grew up in Chicago. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri, and goes to school at the Kansas City Art Institute. She is a musician and a painter, which is what she always wanted to do, except for when she was eight and wanted to be a scuba diver. Email her at [email protected]