I leave the hotel room about six a.m.. Sarah is not in her port-a-crib. She is curled in a tight ball between Mom and Dad. Julian whistles when he sleeps. There is such a whistle that a train could be coming through. I have been awake since around five this morning. I woke up, then was afraid of oversleeping, so I listened to my iPod. I am wearing the cutoffs from yesterday, a clean navy tee shirt that says Peace Happens, and a pair of brown Topsiders. My wallet is in my right back-pocket. It contains $15, my driver’s permit, and a condom. I expect to use only the money this morning.
Kendra is waiting in the lobby by the front doors. We move outside in unison, without saying a word. It felt good.
We start toward Bruegger’s Bagels.
“Did your parents hear you leave?” I ask her.
“Kanya did. I had to bribe her to get her to be quiet.”
“So what did that cost you?”
“Chores for a week.”
“Wow, I am flattered.”
Kendra has an asymmetric face that appears beautiful from either side. Straight on, one eye is slightly higher than the other and her smile is just a tad crooked; one corner of her mouth lifts just millimeters more than the other. I am cursed with noticing this. I like walking beside her. Her head comes up to my chin when I wear these shoes. She glides along in a little plaid dress and pink sandals. It’s confusing to have these feelings, jumbled and unfamiliar about a girl I barely know - who happens to be related to me, by the way. The idea that she may be going to Whately Prep next year is complicated for me.
We pause in front of a small outside bistro on the side of the hotel. She says, “Photo Op.” Kendra throws her arm around my shoulder, holds up her phone and shoots the picture. We both lean in, heads touching, to see the image. She demands my cell phone number so she can send it to me.
Exactly what is Kendra to me? What can she be to me?
When we get to the crosswalk, the light changes, Kendra grabs my hand and pulls me across the street.
I want to always remember that moment. The feel of the soft hand of a girl I like being in mine. That one moment unrolls like a sensory-charged video -- frame by frame. The first warmth of a June day touching our skin. The dingdong, dingdong of the traffic light bleating out its warning to the blind. The scent of coffee, hanging in the air. Our legs shuffling, shuffling in a half-trot to beat the light. The day is full of promise and we are racing toward something new.