I remember 9/11 but not the way everyone else remembers it.
I remember laying atop my grandma’s curly hair, scrunched up above her in the bed as we waited for my baby brother to come home.
I remember our third-floor playroom in Forest Hills, every inch carpeted in wool. Each winter my dad would move our mattresses up there, because it was warmer there, and our playroom was our kingdom. White sheets, white carpet, Winter Wonderland.
I remember my dad pacing the length of my first Big Girl apartment, pointing out the window at the old Moody’s building and his first commute next to One World Trade Center. “It’s about thirty minutes from Queens to here.”
I remember nodding but I don’t remember where Moody’s went.
I remember the cello and how it sounds like dark chocolate, but not when I play it.
I remember the smell of clay and tennis ball fuzz in the old office at the Forest Hills Tennis Club.
I remember when the Forest Hills Tennis Club became The Meadows Music Festival, and Kanye leapt offstage because Kim had been robbed in Paris.
I remember the $40 Uber back to Manhasset that night. (Well, it’s hazy.)
I remember climbing trees, particularly jumping down from the lowest branch in a small feat of courage.
I remember the cicadas at 3AM in the jetlag week after returning from Taiwan and feeling invincible knowing that the entire United States was asleep, except me.
I remember the birthmark on Bodhi’s dad’s forehead.
I remember learning that Bodhi’s dad is white even though he speaks Chinese.
I remember the first day of Manhasset Middle School and Jessica’s new Jack Rogers. Jessica says that when she turns 16, she’ll get an Escalade like her dad.
I remember my black Converse and how they were supposed to look cooler when they’re dirty but I’m not too sure about that.
I remember throwing away my salmon fried rice at the United Nations International School.
I remember when everyone realized the “Manhasset Indians” wasn’t a great team name.
I remember Caroline and Maggie bidding over my dumplings in the school cafeteria.
I remember trading it all for a plain bagel.
I remember looking at all the girls at the table and thinking they all look the same.
I remember thinking it would be a damn shame if we all looked like Kylie Jenner.
I remember all the blonde hair at the lacrosse party and feeling ugly.
I remember all the blonde boys I’ve dated. (I say “all” not because I’ve dated a lot of boys, but because they’re all blonde, which is indubitably worse.)
I remember walking too fast for my Missouri roommate.
I remember the bumpers of cars stacked one against the other on the Long Island Expressway.
I remember the blinking red taillights of cars as they bobbed their heads in and out of the side streets on Broadway. Even the cars distance themselves in quarantine.
I remember prom.
I remember Marc bumbling up my driveway in a tuxedo that his mom texted me about.
I remember the makeup artist who gasped with delight and called me a China doll, then brushed on eyeshadow that fanned out to the corners of the Earth.
I remember when my mom would threaten to call the police when we were being bad, and I would cry and beg forgiveness, but my brother crinkled his nose and dared her to do it. I remember thinking this was the difference between the first and second child.
I remember the first time my high school friends invited my college friends over and I thought my life had come full circle.
I remember being accepted to the last medical school I applied to.
I remember when the restaurant in St. Pete seated my family in the back.
I remember the MAGA hat in IKEA.
I remember fear bubbling up into my stomach, my chest, my throat.
I remember looking at my finished apartment in Florida, my first Doctor Home on Cumberland Avenue.
I remember the first coffee I got with Linda.
I remember feeling aimless at 24.
I’ll remember that at 25, I built a life anew.