Cecilia Lee

It’s late afternoon, sunny, but drizzling a little. Sitting on the porch, I can see the slate stones in the pathway turn speckled. The air smells like pine shavings and rain and some indelible hint that I can’t quite identify: sunshine on pavement and blooming trees, perhaps, or nostalgia of the innocent summer variety. 

I’m trying to think of something profound to write you, but everything is so comfortably sleepy that I just want to eat these strawberries and fall asleep reading like my grandmother has in the chair next to me. Today, I helped her clean the refrigerator and discovered she has at least 20 separate jars of lemon curd in there. (If you’ve ever tried lemon curd, though, you know that that is a perfectly reasonable quantity to own.)

I’ve got a thought rattling around in my head which belongs to Joan Didion. It’s from her essay about keeping a notebook:

“I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not…I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be.” 

Didion uses notebooks to keep in touch with her former selves; I think this place, my grandmother’s home where I’ve spent most summers, is my notebook. I’m thinking of all the people I used to be, those little, past selves who built forts in the neighbor’s bushes and played baseball in the street and wrote coded notes to cousins and ate ice cream every evening without fail. 

If you were here, we’d explore all my childhood haunts. We’d walk the beach at low tide and collect hermit crabs and I’d show you the barnacle rock where I scraped my knee learning to swim.

I was sure, then, that I’d never change. I was sure I’d keep the fundamental bits of myself intact. Now, I can’t even remember what those fundamental bits were, but I think fondly of my past selves. I wonder if she’d like who we’ve become. 

I guess Didion’s right that we’re always changing. Right now, though, I feel like it will always be summer and I will always be a little sleepy. 

Drowsily yours,



It’s June and I’ve almost forgotten what you smell like but at least I’ve memorized the time between here and London. Seven hours. You’ll wake up for work in a few hours; I’ll be asleep. Say hello to the new day for me. 

As I drove from Montana to my aunt’s house, I played the alphabet game to pass the time, looking for each letter in order from “a” to “z” on billboards and serial numbers outside of the car. You’re supposed to play it with other people, but I was alone. There’s a particularly dreary stretch of Wyoming with next-to-no roadside signs where I was stuck for several hours on “q.” 

This summer so far feels exactly like playing the alphabet game alone. I’m losing hope of glimpsing that elusive “q.” 

Since I’ve got no company, there’s nothing to do but be irascible. Today I indulged the delicious, wicked urge to hunt through other people’s things. I have to confess, I loved it. You glean such a sense of how people live by digging through their bookshelves and bathroom cabinets. Bottles of nail polish and the choice of shampoo and trophy collections and old credit cards and discarded favorite toys tell worlds about a person: what they use, what they treasure. 

Even after turning out all the drawers, I’m still riddled with the desire to do something bad. Something bold. Naughty, even. Something to prove to myself I’m still perfectly intact. I think I’ll go to the public library. 

Caged and prone to biting,



Since I last wrote, I’m four teeth lighter, and I don’t lose my breath climbing the stairs anymore, which means I’m used to the altitude. Best of all, though, I have a partner for the alphabet game. My brother is here and that means loud, exuberant dinner conversations and long walks through the nearby park with a frisbee and cherry pit shooting contests on the sidewalk and jumping into gutter puddles and the evening plant-watering ritual (he waters and I try to pet the neighbor’s cat). It also means I have a personal chauffeur around the city, although I’ve discovered after several missed turns that he’s as bad at remembering “right” and “left” as I am. 

Every night we creep up to the attic to watch Lord of the Rings on his laptop. We pause it frequently to comment on the plot and compare it to the books, of which he has read the entirety plus appendices, so he explains any parts the filmmakers left out. We both agree that the best part of watching movies is judging them. What do people do without siblings to watch movies with?

Tomorrow, the mango on my counter will be ripe enough to eat. I’m imagining what it will taste like, juicy, buzzing with sweetness. I’m imagining you’ll be here tomorrow, and we can share it. 

Still waiting,



Home again, with its strange and familiar rhythms. My mother feeds me tinctures of flowers she grows in the garden, claiming that they will cure my every malady and banish any ache. 

But I have aches that even her best herbs can’t cure. Every time I return, this world has shifted in my absence. Childhood friends are engaged and married and parents. The graveyard contains yet more familiar names. This town has turned without me in it. 

It’s the same story of anyone who goes away. I’ve got this place stuck in my chest. Do I still belong here? This is home. Will I be here to witness any more Septembers?

It would be easy to escape to a nice, impersonal suburb where the question of where to source dinner is never more deep than a trip to the local grocer. It would be easier to exist in a place where identity is tied loosely, where I am not haunted, where I do not belong. But I don’t know if I could live with that.

We went on a family expedition to hunt for the wild asparagus that grows in the field behind my house. We’re too late, though. It’s all gone to seed. My grandpa found a stalk as long as his arm, and showed it, proudly, to the camera. 

I’m returning tomorrow, returning to the place that is not-quite home from this place which is not-quite-home. So I drink my mother’s tonic and I tape that photo of my grandfather to the inside of my notebook. I say goodbye to the little past selves who lived here. I wonder where my future selves will call “home.” 

See you soon.



Hannah Mark covers science and society and occasionally writes for the WKND. Originally from Montana, she is a junior majoring in History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health.