It’s midnight and here I am, staring into the bright blue light of my computer screen as I try to write an essay that showcases my skills as a dancer, musician, and soccer player while demonstrating my ability to think critically, my commitment to this college, and my effervescent personality. Despite having written my third “the” in a row, my night just got better. I should really say my morning, because at 12:01 am, I just became a witch.
On my twelfth birthday, I didn’t get a letter. So be it, I thought, after crying my way through the day. Maybe in the US, you have to wait until you’re a fully-fledged witch to get your letter. Five years later, I’m a fully-fledged witch. It’s true, I never got my letter. I learned, however, that any witch or wizard knows what they are and I know I’m a witch. So that was the first good thing.
Then came a couple bad things. 1) I got distracted and the next time the computer clock swam in front of my bleary witch’s eyes, it was past 3:30am. 2) I set my alarm a little back but was woken up by the harsh sound of shouting at 7 am. The second bad thing was actually a good thing. The yelling turned out to be two macarons and an apple turnover. My friends, who had delivered the yelling pastries, had to rush to school, so I fell back asleep for another blissful fifteen minutes. For the second time that day, I awoke to the sounds of yelling. My sister had discovered a spider in the toilet. Resigned, I heaved myself out of bed with the mature yawn of a 17 year old.
Half an hour later, I’m armed with coffee and in the car on the way to school. Why do I choose “Collard Greens” for the seven minute ride? The answer is unclear. Maybe it’s that I’m still bleary and not yet in quite my right mind.
School is recognized by my caffeine-hyped, sleep-deprived brain as I take the 10 minute visitor parking spot. I talk to friends then head to class. That’s when my best friend dive bombs, bearing gifts. Of course it’s a scarf.
There are classes, the crown gives away my birthday. The response is either “Is it your birthday?” “Happy Birthday?” or “Oh hey.” It’s people I don’t expect who congratulate me, people I’m not sure I’ve even talked to this year. Having started the day expecting displeasure (real life can’t beat magic), I begin to smile a little wider.
I meet my sister’s reflection brushing her wet hair in the bathroom mirror.
“Downtown?” I say.
“Obviously,” she responds.
There are two dresses downtown, a yarn shop, and a public restroom. I buy the dresses, enter the yarn shop, and use the public restroom (ill advised).
We walk to the end of the wharf and it’s Perfect. There’s the looming thought of the upcoming flight leaving SFO that my sister plans to be on, the inevitable family dinner, the upcoming discomfort of opening presents while scrutinized by the gift-givers, and everything else but right then, there’s just the sunset. It’s one to remember: seagull and pelican silhouettes piercing a dark ocean to the colors of blue and burnt orange.
Then we’re running to catch the less than comfortable dinner, made better by the appearance of my best friend. Nothing can be done to make present-opening more bearable. Too soon, I wish opening presents had lasted longer as my sister makes her way to our grandparents’ car. I hold her too tight but it’s me that can’t breathe.
“Did I mention you’re not leaving?”
“Oh, but I am.”
“Fine so am I. If you can carry me, I’m a carry-on.” I can’t look when I hear the car driving down the hill.
Then I’m back in my room. My best friend is still here with “Exploding Kittens” the card game. We play until I explode. Then we go up to the roof. The night is clear. It’s my first night as a witch: of course it’s clear.