if i close my eyes and imagine something warmer than this 30 degree weather, something closer to my family than just being in the same city, with memories more tangible than pictures, i imagine ramen. walking back from my last class, all i can think of is a bowl of steaming noodles, eggs, and chopped up chicken. those loaf-sized packages that’d come in orange, yellow, or burgundy and could be found in rite aids or a corner store. i grew up on the chicken flavored ones (orange). when i was small, summer mornings started at 10 am when my god-sister and brother visited. i’d wake up warm in my parents’ bed and my god-siblings would be standing there grinning, the first things i’d see when my eyes opened. we’d run around my row-home, in my room with the toy dinosaurs and downstairs with sesame street on the tv. this was before their third little brother and my three little sisters. this was before crushes and spiritual hemorrhaging and loans. we’d go to the playground down the street and swing for hours, until our butts were sore and our legs were tired, as if we tried running through the sky, or something. at home, momma would cut up leftover baked chicken from the other night as the pot on the stove boiled. an orange package of dried noodles were already open, looking like a brick of spaghetti or gold hair. the noodles were still in the package as momma crunched them up and dumped the noodles into the water. a light cracker smell, vaguely soupy, filled the steam. i’d get to carefully rip open the little silver packet of magic. pouring the orange powder into the pot, a puff of chicken flavored the air. in went the pieces of chicken. momma stirred then forked the noodles, now bouncy and stringy, into our bowls. a few ounces of salty broth in each. the kitchen wallpaper, the shelves, the table all heavy with june and steam clinging to our skin. the watery ambience of the fish tank, the slow whirl of the air conditioner, the knowledge that we have tomorrow, all wrapped in a salty bowl of instant ramen. now, my god-siblings are in another county, in high school or a different church. now we only smile at each other when in the church hallways. my god-brother is taller than me by a foot, has his friends, his life. now my god-sister has her friends who don’t talk to me because of our age difference and because i’m not loud. i watch her hang around them awkwardly with her growing, gangly grace and wow she’s a few years off from college. where did our summers go? when i see them, there is this awkward sense that too many events have occurred, too many memories have died, for us to be anymore than people who are related by marriage. a beloved, lost proximity. now i’m in college, trying to gather warmth in my fingers after exiting the cold and hiking up to my dorm. there’s another weather inside my chest that’s a little snowy and harder to ditch. i’m craving sunsets and a bowl of ramen noodles. rite aid is only twenty floors and a block and a half away. i think i’m going to rite aid.
Dynas Johnson is an English major at Temple University and a contributing editor for Hyphen, Temple’s undergraduate literary magazine. She has poems published or forthcoming in Sooth Swarm Journal, Ghost Proposal, and Rogue Agent. When Dynas is not writing, she can be found volunteering at the Eastern Service Workers Association, daydreaming, or looking for new bubble tea places.