• Turn left on Summit Avenue, then take the second left off of Perring Rd, and you are on Valles Court. Continue until you reach number seven, the blue house on the right. Second to the end. There is no tree outside. The Ornamental Japanese plum was pulled out by the brute force of a 39 year old, a 38 year old, and an 11 year old. It had worms, or a choking weed, or a disease, or something. All I remember is pouring soured milk at it's base to kill the surrounding plants, and pulling the rope. I remember loading the branches into the back of Dad's Isuzu Amigo, I remember the big empty hole. I remember that the tree had been dead for a while; we had spread those fake stretchy spider webs all over its stark, bare branches. I remember finding a wisp of those thin, woven polyester fibers, clinging to one of the branches that got loaded up, to disappear into the great maw of the county dump. I remember a lot. Like how the doorbell was just the right height for my mother to ring with her nose, and how the basement was always so cold that you'd have to sit under two comforters to keep warm, even in the heat and humidity of August.

    I remember the "birthday surprise"; the handmade cards that Mom used to announce Cerys. I remember being angry, I remember Meredith crying because she wanted the title of "baby" forever. I still have the card, even though the tape that held it together lost some of its stickiness, and the baby cutout fell off the front. I remember confusion. I do not remember packing; just a blur of activity. I remember the airport, the flight to Arizona, the layover before boarding the smaller, noisier plane to California. I remember the BART lady glaring at me because I left my ticket on the train. I didn't know I was supposed to keep it. I remember being 15, on the other side of the country, and thinking how funny it was that I was in Maryland one day, California the next. Will the wonders of Modern man never cease? And how weird it was, that on my first day in California, I wore a thin skirt and a short sleeve shirt, because hey, isn't sunny CA supposed to be warm? No, Northern California in March is supposed to be freezing and rainy. I remember registering for school. Nikko Short was the first student here that I ever spoke to. I ran into him, and said "excuse me". A month later, I would develop a minor obsession with him that would last me through summer and into October of sophomore year. I remember my first day at Cal, eating teriyaki chicken and rice under stairs in the pod, and the librarian telling me to get an ID card, but I didn't know how. I remember my first friend, Bailey Meyers, and how it was a short step from there to comfort.

    I think that adaption and adaptation are the key to human survival. I remember moving many times before this, but never being able to comprehend the lessons taught by this. Also, humans are fundamentally similar, despite being different. I remember successfully convincing myself that moving to California would be my doom. I remember forgetting my anger at another sibling disappearing as soon as I saw her. I remember learning that preconceived notions are worthless. I have lived for 16 years. I have moved seven times since I was born. My mother has lived for almost 45 years. She has moved 24 times. I have learned enough to fill several books, but the most important lesson I have ever learned is that we are all human, we are all citizens of this world and universe, and that no matter where we are in it, we are home. I remember the framed cross stitchery that my grandmother had on the wall of the stair well. It said "Home is where the heart is". I remember thinking how cheesy and cliched and stupid it seemed, but I've learned that sometimes cliches are true.