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The Vanderbilt Review

The Vanderbilt Review

The Vanderbilt Review

My Good Friend, Mashed Potato

Image generated using TVR does not benefit financially from its publications.
Image generated using TVR does not benefit financially from its publications.

In between singing Dancing Queen and feeling warm and amber leaves and winking stars, I crane myself through the window to breathe in. Slow down! I scream into the infinite wind. But you can only smile, and we both know our city never feels as alive as when it’s right behind you. Won’t ever be the same as it is right now–brilliant, bastardly, fleeting as a half-formed thought yet so palpable around us, and all ours. And in that second split wide open–I can recall today with an instinctive certainty that shoots up my spine–is when the story really began, when it was already too close to ending for comfort. It’s late enough for there to be few other cars around. I’m trying not to think about why we’re living so fast, wouldn’t want to pollute this crisp autumn air with the heavy smoke of reality. To ramble and reflect here with you, to average five philosophical epiphanies per mile and know we’ll forget them the next day, is all I’ll ask for.

I watch you step on fortune cookies outside the P.F. Chang’s. You tend to relish in the insignificant, and listen carefully for the crackle beneath your feet, but I think this pleasure is cheap. Why so linear? you say to me with the wave of a hand. Why not make simplicity extravagant? I throw back my head; teach me how! I laugh. You’re right, though, and I don’t, in fact, realize what I might someday trade in a half heartbeat to simply be by your side. I continue in ignorance. You’re too barbarian. Just eat the fortu– but before I can finish, another one falls from your hand and disappears under your boot. Fine. I open mine and the slip of paper inside tells me to “Hear and forget, but see to remember.” We snicker because it means nothing to us, but I keep it in my coat pocket anyways. A breath of snow drifts down from the sky and lights on trees fill my eyes and it would be a long, long while before I’d understand the moral of that story.

But nights blur into days blur into months. We climb over dollhouse furniture and scoop golf balls out of the pool and draw faces with fingers into mashed potatoes which we pour by the rusty ladleful onto the soil, from which there will erupt a kaleidoscope of flowers in the spring. Looking back at those tender memories, what we had was almost too magical. It was like it never occurred to me then that I was actually living through my life. How does one “live” in utopia? I’d known everything would cost me something sooner or later, but always figured when sooner or later came around I’d be able to pay whatever cost. I could make promises and have until the end of time to see them through. We’re laying on our backs in a pile of mashed potatoes and flowers. I’ll wash off our sidewalk chalk. Promise I’ll visit you every week until summer ends.

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About the Contributor
Anne Zhang, Poetry Staff Member, Contributor
Anne Zhang (she/her) is a freshman from Lexington, Massachusetts, double majoring in applied mathematics and economics with minors in business and data science.  Her fun fact: "My Suzie's order is an iced lavender and vanilla double shot latte!"

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