This free write was the product of some healthy boredom one evening when I was sitting in my apartment with the windows flung open wide, savoring the sounds and smells that drifted in. For nearly as long as I can remember, my family has vacationed to Utah for weekend camping trips and there are a few quiet moments throughout the day that always call back good memories like this one.
The earthy scent of evening dew pushed its way through the balcony screen door on a stiff clean late March breeze. The night was black outside her windows and the wet pavement shimmered with the reflected light of streetlamps. Traffic on the next street quietly droned in harmony with a gentle choir of crickets. The world was soft, dampened yet totally sharp, the flutter of each individual leaf on the sidewalk crackling loud and clear in the still black.
It reminded her of campfires and early morning expeditions into the desert jungle gym surrounding her family’s campsite. It reminded her of mosquito bites and sunburns and orange sand between her toes when she stepped out of her hiking boots. She felt like if she leaned out over her balcony railing and looked straight up she might see a spray of sparkles in the inky sky that she knew with absolute certainty was the Milky Way. She was too close to Chicago to see anything in the night sky but if she closed her eyes and breathed in that cool, sweet air, she could almost see it.
She could see her family, burrowed into low camp chairs beneath those stars. They sang cowboy songs and laughed at her dad’s cookie monster impression, tears of mirth streaming from their eyes. In that quiet, wet, dark air she felt home surround her and fill her up. Her heart felt ten pounds lighter and ten pounds heavier all at once as she sat curled up on her sofa and let herself miss home.