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Before moving to New York, the narrator recalls some of her favorite moments and places in Bellevue

“GABBY!! Hurry up! We’re going to be late.” My sister’s voice echoed from the bottom of the stairwell. I slowly got up, deciding if I should move even slower to annoy her.

My family was moving because my dad got a new job in the big city, and it felt like billions of miles away. I thought that if I could go back and change the past, I would make sure that he had never quit his old job. If he would have been happier there, then maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t be losing my entire life.

I walked upstairs to the door that I always walked out of, thinking nothing would ever be the same ever again. I slipped my shoes on, opened the door, and stepped outside on the porch. I slammed the door shut with a big boom.

I walked down the blue stairs where I would sit and watch the pouring rain smack on the ground every time the rain came pouring down. It was the best spot to just sit and listen to the pitter-patter of the rain bounce off the roof and onto the porch. All of a sudden all these other memories came rushing back to me. I thought about the red-leafed tree in my front yard where I would climb to the top just to see my neighbor’s house. I thought about the rocky driveway, where I would skate down to get to the road. We passed the street where my friend and I would play and yell “CAR!” every single time there was a car. One time, my family and I bought a little green plastic man that told cars to slow down and we put him on the curb. My friend Rae and I decided to name it Slow Joe.

As we passed my friend’s yard, I was transported back to the memory of when we would lay a blanket and play with our toys when we were little. I remember one time we pretended that her yard was an imaginary house. We would play house with our little plastic toy foods. I started feeling a little upset about the move. I wished I could go back. I wished I could do life over. Do it over the right way. If life worked that way, there wouldn’t be so much pain in life—the disappointment and unhappiness that makes life miserable.

I’m not sure this move is the best move, I thought to myself as tears welled up in my eyes.

All of a sudden, Raeghan was rushing toward me, and I was approaching her yard. Once she had reached me, we started walking toward her front porch. One time I remember that we had Otter Pops. I can still taste the sweet, tangy flavor in my mouth, turning it purple. And we just sat there, not talking, just enjoying each other’s company. It was those fond memories that I didn’t want to leave behind, those memories I was clinging onto.

I could tell she was trying to cheer me up. She was always trying to cheer me up when I was upset.

“Are you excited for dinner? We’ve got pizza and watermelon,” Rae said to me as we walked along the sidewalk.

There was a long pause. I didn’t answer. I could tell she was trying to cheer me up. She was always trying to cheer me up when I was upset. We had been friends since we were very young, so she had gotten amazing at it by now.

We approached her door, and as soon as she opened the door her dog Lila was rushing toward me and jumping on me. She had the biggest grin a dog could have on her face. Her dark brown, chocolate hair shed all over me. Her coat was so shiny it was like the sun reflecting off water, but dog hair. Her claws were sharp, but it didn’t hurt. It felt pleasant to see how excited she was to see me. Somehow I was able to get out of that frenzy and get up the stairs. All with Lila on my trail.

I raced out to the deck and so did Raeghan. As soon as we got outside, we ran down the stairs and raced to her clubhouse eagerly. We started chatting.

“Hello!” My mother’s soft voice filled their empty backyard as she walked through the door.

“Hey!” I said eagerly to Raeghan. “My parents are here. Come on—let’s go eat!” Not only were my parents here, but Charles was here too! Charles was my older sister Ellie’s boyfriend; he was sweet but very shy. I’m guessing also overwhelmed because he has one brother. There are five kids in our house. I am the youngest. Which was very fun; usually I had someone to play with. But sometimes I didn’t like having six parents instead of two.

We rushed up the stairs to go see my family and Charles. As soon as we were all here, we started to dish up. As I walked through the line of food, I could smell all these different smells. It smelled like our neighbor’s cooking.

Alone in a Field

I thought about this restaurant down the block that had the most amazing mac and cheese bites I’d ever had. They were breaded and steaming hot as soon as you got them. The restaurant had this glass case of different-flavored ice cream. They didn’t want anyone to touch it, so they put this sign on it that said, Please don’t tap the glass; you’ll scare the ice cream. Cloud Nine was the best restaurant. Mostly because it was like home: it was only in that location. It was one of a kind, just like the place that I call home.

The table where we sat was made of fake glass and didn’t fit that many people.

The seats filled up fast, and I ended up sitting across from my sister Chloe.

The table reminded me of a little table we had in our backyard. We had always used it to rest s’more stuff on top, or hot dogs and plates, when we had a fire pit. I could still taste the smoky, gooey flavor of the marshmallow when you could feel that sticky sweetness sticking to the top of your mouth as you chewed.

All of a sudden my sister was yelling at me.

“Hey, Gabby! Catch!” She was throwing a ball right at my face. I didn’t realize what was going on. Bang! A round, red, rough-textured playground ball had hit me straight in the face.

Chloe’s face turned as red as the ball. “Oops,” she said, trying to comfort me.

I got angry and stormed out of their backyard through the gate all the way home.

“Sorry, Gabs!” she screamed off the deck, hoping I would hear her, which I did, but I was so busy stewing in my frustration I didn’t turn back.

As soon as I got home I ran into my room and flopped on my bed. It went up then down with a bounce. A few minutes later I heard a loud creak. Footsteps walking up the stairs, the echo as they walked down the hall.

“Hey,” Kristy said as she walked through my door. Right as she walked in, I immediately started to expect Rae to arrive. “Are youokay? I know this is really hard,” There was a little pause. I knew that I thought about life a lot. I knew that this move was especially hard for me. But the one thing that turned out I hadn’t thought about was that it was also especially hard for everyone else who had to deal with a person, someone who seems to be a good friend, leaving them for no apparent reason.

Was I being selfish by only thinking about my feelings? Yes . . . No . . . Maybe.

“Yeah, I’m okay.” She wrapped her arms around me and gave me a big, comforting hug. I was not quite sure who she was trying to make feel better. She let go and looked me right in the eyes.

“Thank you,” she choked. Tears were streaming down her face and now mine. “For being such a good friend to my daughter.” She gave me one more hug and walked out the door.

After Kristy’s unexpected visit, I realized that Raeghan wasn’t coming to say goodbye. Still, I waited and waited and waited. The clock ticked and tocked and ticked and tocked, and finally it was time to turn out the lights. We were leaving in three days. But I guess that part wasn’t on my mind. The only thing on my mind at the time was if Raeghan had a good reason for not saying goodbye to me.

The next three days went by so quickly. It was seven in the morning on July 25 at the Seattle airport.

“Group B, please board your flight,” the announcer said over the intercom.

I didn’t want to move. And I didn’t want my dad to have a new job, but what could I do?

Five hours later, my entire life, my house, my friends, my neighborhood—it was all 2,780.3 miles away. Somehow I knew that it was never coming back. I also knew that I would never be a New Yorker because I could never turn my back on Bellevue, the wet and cold place I call home. Even without going there, I always knew that New York would never let me fit in. Fit in with those city people.

But what was I supposed to do? My chapters were changing, and I had just lost the greatest one of my life.