I grew up as the youngest cousin in a very loud Italian family. On my mom’s side, everybody talks over everybody until there’s this gusty high-hum. When this would start to happen, sometime between gnocci and pie, I’d go in my room, stuff a towel under the door, and open a window to keep away fumes from my Uncle John’s smokes.

This was always my favorite time, hearing muffled laughs from the living room and kitchen from my bed. I’d listen to music or nap, or float someplace in between.

But I could never shake a certain loneliness. A particular quiet goes along with being young in the Midwest, in the middle of field on field. For comfort, I’d imagine a grid of all the driveways between me and the ocean, dream up all the other kids waiting to move north and west.