California Dreaming

Often my friend will call me late on weeknights to inquire upon my mental condition and state of being. She provides comfort as she always has in the past, though now we are far away from one another. Her voice is faded now, the salt and grit of reality has faltered over wireless phone calls. We reveal less than we did back in the days when I saw her hair shining orange, yellow, gold into the eclipse of black roots. Nicole’s hair was consistently changing. Such change invokes a chain of intricate memories. Without these smears of color, my memory of her is a prisoner’s of the outside world; thought of with longing and sorrow.
Nicole had a certain aura about her which invoked strong feelings of curiosity in all that could see. The student body’s steady flow into school for class was oddly incoherent to the free leaf that floated daintily around it. Every morning I would await this girl, strange and odd, watching her stroll, zigzagging to and fro a roaring crowd. Even then, her hair fascinated me. In the first days of our acquaintance, her hair was cold and red, as decayed roses are in dewed mornings. My fingers itched to plait the flower bed before it rotted, and once my courage had blossomed, I inquired to her quietly, “Can I braid your hair?” which she replied as often chill does in the wintry months of the year, “yes”.

During the first day of my arrival in Georgia, I placidly watched Anne of Green Gables- the same movie Nicole and I had watched during a class we had had shared the year prior. New feelings of southern humidity and deadening nostalgia overtook me. My favorite quote, “bosom buddies” had lost its secretive quality. The walls of my new house, mid 70’s paneling, reflected a dull antiquity into the room. The movie I loved and cherished with Nicole had dimmed into a low-budgeted Lifetime premier. The grayness of the outside sky kept me awaiting a rain. My ears strained for thunder that would never come. I became anxious for rain, and I never watched Anne of Green Gables again.
Storms were infrequent and heavy where I used to live. A hard and cold rain, thunderless, sent cascading water down the mountains towards the city. An inadequate drainage system caused chaos on all streets, and school sometimes released early. Her hair was black, with tints of red here and there. Her stroll was comprised of whispers, sounding as leaves do on freezing cement. Once we were released from school, the rain reduced to a trickle; I walked to her home for the first time. Accompanying us was her best friend, Sarah, whose character was comparable to the gentle breeze of the wind. The three of us soon became inseparable.

I have nowhere to go now. Even if I did have a friends’ house to walk to, I could not bear the cement- untimely scattered with leaves. Even in summer, draught and cold snaps leave the trees confused with the seasons: some sport fall colors, others are dead with a winter’s disease. I seek inside for refuge, and do not go out often. The lighting of our current house is gloomy. It stirs me with both inspiration and horror. The atmosphere of the home is one of the most important to the creative mind, I’ve learned. The home sets an innate mood and state of emotion for my personal writing. My window faces north, and catches clear glimpse of neither sunset nor rise, but only the indifferent high noons of the day. Somehow, the smell of the air echoes this, reverberating a scent similar to dirty antiquities that have not seen sun in many years. My words sometimes imitate this too, and become bitter on paper.
Nicole’s hair was bronzed during the pinnacle of our relationship. Most of my memory of this dirty brown period is illuminated with happiness and thirsty grass. I would sometimes go to her house, though we would seldom stay there. Our days were filled of unconditioned heat; we escaped to the busy corners of the city, where cool movie theaters and takeout restaurants awaited our arrival. I never minded walking to these places in sweltering situations, and I cherished being a pedestrian with somewhere to go. Nicole and Sarah would come to my house, where we sat in the cool air- dying each other’s hair red, carefree. The French windows of my room looked towards the mountains, and the sun. My art reflected its warm toning and ambiance.

I have yet to find one person to surmount the friendship of Nicole; I have seen the wonders of true friendship, and will not settle for less. I am patient. I am saddened. Her phone calls and letters are dead and empty. But I remember how she was, and how it was, and I know things cannot change between us. I cling to the best memories of her I have.
The color of Nicole’s hair prior to my move was a dark blue. It moved with her steps, wallowing into a funnel and crashing down repeatedly. It was warm, though isolating, in its blue hue, which contrasted to the icy gust of her eyes. Those days I spent speaking to her, assuring her that yes, I would call her and no, I would not forget her. I spent our last night together at her house. We spoke to each other of everything that night, hardly sleeping. We played cards, a mere distraction to our serious discussion of future plans, and the sun rose. I saw her look over my shoulders, out of the window facing the blood red star. Her hair had woven into the sun’s rays, arranging to frame around her face in a teardrop of rain during a sunny day. I have internalized that moment in time. This memory is one of the best, as well as worst, in my recollection. This spec in time holds a purpose and a melancholy simultaneously. Its significance is profound. Whenever I see the beginning of Nicole blur with the ending of another insignificant, I think of her that day, and the Californian sun that shown so brightly in front of her.





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