by Annie Thorndike

When I was growing up, I would go to the beach every summer on the coast of Tillamook County, Oregon. No matter where you went in Tillamook County, there was bound to be an ice cream shop, and homemade waffle cones that smelled like angels’ dreams combined with vanilla scented Yankee candles. This scent flowed through every street for 2 blocks around its source. It felt like home. It touched my sinuses like hands on puppy fur, warm and downy.


In New York City, between every blink, breath and step is a sensory cacophony. Mish-mashed and tangled together are the sounds of people’s steps, subways, cabs, glittering lights, models, vagabonds, derelicts. What makes it real for me is the mixture of vintage-old-industrial smell thrown up from the subway grates and the ethereal-perfect aroma of sugar-roasted nuts from a kiosk. It is American glory, grit and independence. It is bright gold marquee lights, feather-edged and glistening, starlets red lips limousine. It is the hard part of the city, and it is the reason why you’re there.


It was the winter of 2013, I was in my most confused period. I didn’t know what I wanted or who I wanted to be. During one cold night my best friend and I watched strange videos on a large screen to beautiful music in another language. Oil-shining morphing people, two dancers in an old auto body factory, a light on a mountain, a ghost ship floating through mist. We both cried, round soft tears floated down her cheek. She had rolled a perfume called Shimmer all over her body. I didn’t like the way it smelled, but I couldn’t forget it. We both felt the same when we left the theater, as if the art that just danced in front of us had scraped a bit of feeling out of the insides of our chest. Later, we sat wrapped in white comforters. Confused, emotional, undirected and hopeful, hearing wintery music and feeling young. When everyone else was asleep, we stayed up, put on snowsuits and climbed on top of her roof and looked up. It was the stars that were bright, but our souls were brighter. In silence we were free, but connected by a promise, frozen like the stars, fleeting like the snowflakes on our eyelashes.



Annie Thorndike is an Early Honors freshman and was born and raised in Anchorage. She is planning on attending design school after graduating. She loves movies, music, and traveling.


  • Elin

    This was such an adventure of the senses. I loved all the little details you included. This was so rich with both imagery and nostalgia. The last section was amazing. The feelings you left us with at the conclusion were so relatable and had great depth. You have such a skill for little insights.

  • Samantha Kalarchik

    I loved reading this. You had so much description, I could imagine the smells, sights and sounds you described. I have been to both Tillamook, Oregon and New york. If I had written about my experiences in these places, it would have sounded very similar to your description.

  • Beth

    Elin beat me to it; I also loved the imagery you chose to focus on and your word choice the whole way through. Your poetic and detailed style easily brings the reader into each moment you lay out in front of them. This could and should turn into a collection of moments archived as you experience life; melancholy and beautifully edgy.

  • Ryan Terry

    Your writing was packed full of great vocabulary and amazing imagery. Some of your analogies are very interesting and unique, which adds to the enjoyment. You’ve created a piece that really sends the reader to the scene. Great job!

  • Aponi Johnson

    As I ready you piece I could smell the smells and witness the things that you were. Every word you chose led to the vast context in each part. Thank you for letting us take a peek at these wonderful moments.

  • Karissa

    Annie! This was such a nice read – an escape. I enjoyed the way that you tied these stories together using the senses! I can always feel something when you write. You’re a rock-star. Get it, girl.

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