i am always tired of staying in one place
always needing freeways to free a way to feel alive
i am always tired of being tired
everything is in constant movement around me yet i am still
i close my eyes and sit in the middle of a shifting art museum
watching the blend of colors through glass

the hills breathe and scream into my ears
i feel them pop and deafen as i jolt awake
i am not in the same place where i fell asleep
someone had kissed the moon goodnight,
kissed the sun good morning
“good morning,” i say back
the tires take us to another place

someone threatens to open the car door every twenty minutes
none of us ever could stand sitting still
my siblings distract themselves with a list

“skeeball and cornhole are essentially the same thing”
“that’s like saying soccer and water polo are essentially the same game”
“well, they are”
“are you joking? skeeball slides the ball while cornhole involves throwing”
“so you’re still bitter about losing that game”
it doesn’t get better as we debate over what the most attractive sport is
we essentially have the same conversation over and over

my fingers melt the Hershey’s Cookies ’n’ Creme bar in my hands
my mother balances the wheel while holding half a pound of gummy bears from the market
the cup holder is up between the two front seats
carrying our homemade banana-berry smoothies
we live like kids in dreams

the car is broken into sound and silence
with the background mixtapes of ’80’s groove and ’90’s rap hits still running
my sister sits to the right, studying her fieldwork notes while painting her nails
there’s a movie playing in the back, where my brother and his girlfriend fail to cover their laughter
i sit with my legs folded, focused on embroidering a patch that states, “GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN-damental rights”
but i write a mental list
a list of things to do to feel endless

it is awfully strange to feel frozen after wanting to stretch for so long
but the lost hills surrounding us have life in them
life in it’s daily routine
i am too shocked to walk and interrupt it
“it’s a pit stop for most people,” the man says by the gas station
but some people have their entire lives here
while others from around the world stay for as long as a meal
i leave a piece of me there as we drive away

we walk through the downtown shops with admiration
trinkets and baubles shining in the windows
someone offers their hand and gives me a twirl
blows kisses and i’m off again to buy a glass bottle of soda
the quaintness of these streets are meant for tea parties and Mary Poppins
accompanied by the SALES LP album in the background
there is something in the air that whispers “home”

there are two boys selling flowers
i spend forever looking at the plants
one of the boys sits grumpily in a chair while the other gives me a warm smile
“don’t mind him, he’s like this every day,” he says and ruffles the angry boy’s hair
i leave with a potted succulent and baby’s breath in my hair

my obsession with van Gogh led me to hold a pair of starry night socks
waiting for a cashier to show up at the small shop on the pier
with a honey stick in my mouth
a boy shows up with a cut on his left cheekbone,
quickly rearranging misplaced socks and throwing his backpack down,
sits on the counter and says to me,
“do you know anything about van Gogh or are you just a fan of socks?”
a challenge, i take the honey stick out of my mouth
“i know he painted Starry Night in an asylum, and it depicts his view from it right before sunrise.”
he considers me with a tilted head before ringing me up
“honey,” he says, “honey taffy, you should try it across the street”
my curiosity gets the best of me as i buy a few pieces but leave with a pound of it
my entire life is changed

we sit on the famous Forrest Gump bench outside of Bubba Gump
waiting for our reservation to be called
the sun filters through a few trees and casts shadows on my face
there is hope written there
that this is not the end of an adventure

the rocks beneath my feet have traveled more than i have
i touch them as the tide pulls them back
wave to the waves that sing with the moon
there is some understanding here that i don’t quite understand
i watch a boy share an ice cream cone with his baby sister
there is something here that deserves to be seen
i sit down on the sand and watch the ocean endlessly

—By Jelena B., 16, California