Jamie and I sat on the side of the roof that faced the Gold Medallion tree, watching the flowers that told us fall was here bloom a bright yellow. Under the light of a lamppost, you could see each individual petal floating toward the ground when the wind blew just right. Sometimes, the petals chased each other frantically, an endless game of tag until they ran right into the ground.
It was on that rare occasion that Jamie and I paused conversation and watched the petals have their dance. Fall doesn’t come so noticeably in California- at least not to me- so I try to soak up every whisper of it that I can.
The orange and red leaves falling constantly from emptying trees, the cold breezes shivering you into a hoodie, and the clouds shrouding the light of the sun all come in December and January.
The eighty degree, dry and sunny autumn we have turns fun fall activities like pumpkin patches into a day trip to hell and makes a joke out of tight-knit sweaters and hipster beanies.
“I miss fall like THIS,” Jamie says. She makes a big dramatic gesture that almost cost her her half of the cherry popsicle we split.
“What do you mean ‘THIS'” I made the same gesture and nearly rolled off the roof. Jamie catches me before I get the chance.
“Christ, Lil. Watch yourself.” She gets herself into a smile she can’t break and shakes her head at me. Her eyes go twinkly and she looks over the block. She looks at our Gold Medallion, and Mrs. Linneti’s house and her house across the street. Jamie misses home, and home misses her more.
Jamie’s Mom moved her to Michigan with her aunt because Jamie is an actress and wants to study Musical Theatre at University Of Michigan. This way, her moms says, she establishes her residency and has a way less expensive tuition to pay. We call everyday and text every minute, and sometimes we even write letters to get just the right Gone With The Wind effect.
When she told me she was back home from Michigan for Thanksgiving , I ran straight to her house for a weekend-long sleepover. We raided the kitchen to get food, and holed up in her livingroom until the end of the weekend. After that, we spent the entire break going to the park with her siblings, Max and Melody, and having dates at the “Bound Wonders” bookstore in the center.
Today is her last day, so we decided to revisit our Sunday morning routine and watch the sunrise. We believe in sunrises instead of sunsets. Fresh starts and peaceful silence, not to mention the fact that barely anyone is crazy enough to get up early in time to watch it. The sunrise is just for me and her.
“Just. This. It isn’t too cold or too hot, like, we can eat popsicles on the roof before sunrise and not have a problem because it’s already hot. If I did this in Michigan, my ass would be frozen to the roof and either I’d have to part with my ass or the roof would have to part from itself.”
“I’d quite enjoy the effect of both. Which would you choose?” I stick my popsicle in my mouth and raise my eyebrows at her
“Oh the roof is coming with me, baby!” She bites down on her popsicle and I start squirming.
“Oh I hate when you do that. You’re absolutely repulsive.”
Jamie makes direct eye contact and chomps down on another huge chunk of the popsicle. We both scream from different pains and then start laughing so hard that our heads hurt.
I really missed my best friend.
I missed driving to school together and bumping music so loud you could hear it even with the windows up. I missed walking our dogs together to the park I missed coming up to the roof with her to laugh and talk. The first time we came up was when we were ten, the day of both of our father’s funerals.
Our fathers had been friends since birth, just like Jamie and me. They got jobs together at a recycling plant and worked there for 15 years. To bring in some extra money they picked up an early shift and left in my dad’s truck at 4am. They were hit by a drunk driver going 80mph. It was one street away from the plant. That day the sky was white and grey.
Jamie and I talk for hours on end, waiting for the sun to come up. We hovered between things like how Mrs. Linetti, our sweet Italian grandmother of a neighbor, couldn’t keep control of the hose while watering her lawn to what Oliver Macy, who works at Bound Wonders in our town center, meant in the way he said “You have good taste in words, Flores,” when I placed a copy of Wuthering Heights on the counter.
“Oh! Oh! Look Lil, THE SUN!” She spins me around so that we’re facing it indirectly. Enough to see it paint the sky but not so straight that it blinds and burns us both.
We take in the birds chirping, the early shuffle of the neighbors, the sweaty joggers who are playing their music too loud and can’t hear how hard they’re breathing. Seriously, what is up with those guys? In through the nose, out through the mouth.
“I’d say pink and orange, wouldn’t you? Hey what rhymes with orange?” I turn my head to face her, and she’s rushing to wipe away some tears. “Jamie, what’s wrong?” I scoot over and wrap my arms around her as she starts laughing through the tears.
“Ugh this sucks,” she sniffs.
“I know, you’re getting snot all over my favorite sweater.” I pat her hand and give her a serious look in the eyes.
“This is so gross, I’m sorry. We were supposed to watch a beautiful sunrise and talk about the way Charlotte Bronte would make it depressing as hell or make up a song about it that Lin would take to Broadway. I’m sorry.” She looks at me with mascara smudged around her eyes and tears waiting to keep pouring. Mine start to water.
“Don’t be sorry, we can still do that. We’ll just be crying.” I take my left hand from over her and start wiping away at my eyes rapidly. “God we’re so gross.”
“Why do humans have so many fluids?!” She shakes her hands to the sky as if she’s grabbing God by the collar and interrogating Him on all human design flaws.
I lay my head on her shoulder and looked up at the sun. I’m watching the backdrop change between scenes and I’m bracing myself for the next one. I like watching the transition. Gives your emotions time to catch up.
“I don’t want to go back to Michigan.” She says after a few minutes of silence.
The sky is bright baby blue.