i just expended my last ounce of energy dancing to “don’t go breakin’ my heart” in my parked car, one house down from mine. and then i tripped, twice, on my way to the bathroom. now i am lying in bed, where i can do no more harm. (pretty soon, i’m certain i’ll pass out.)
that song always reminds me of ellen, a name i almost never breathe, especially around my family. i can still see her in the nijmegen living room, wearing fly sunglasses and blue velour, and using a broom as a microphone. that was the summer after i graduated high school, the trip i got in lieu of a debut. she inspired me to get a bob haircut. she taught me the value of true friends. she was the big sister i always wanted and never had. and then she and my brother got divorced, and i never saw her again.
still, i have to say that was a pretty amazing summer. it was my first time in europe. before i developed a taste for coffee and an appreciation for van gogh. before i learned to pack light. before i fell in love.
somewhere, i have a silver ID bracelet, engraved “summer of ’93,” that tom and ellen gave me as a pasalubong. i think i’d wear it again, sometime, if i could find it. i had put it away because it brought back bad memories, but now all i remember is the way my cheeks hurt from smiling.