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March 6th, 2014 - Maggie Grainger

The 38 Rapid shoots down Geary Street, past Fillmore and Van Ness, as it works its way toward downtown San Francisco. I clutch the handlebar overhead and try to read my library book at the same time. 

It’s another beautifully unpredictable day in the city by the Bay and I’m ready for it. 

I turned 30 about two months ago – on December 24 – and I’m not exactly where I pictured I’d be at this age. How am I 30? I don’t feel like an adult. But then again what does feeling like an adult, well, feel like? I don’t have health insurance or a boyfriend, but I have lots of friends and no shortage of invitations to go out for happy hour so that has to count for something, right? 

I recently started a contract job at a company that compares a woman’s pregnant belly to fruits and vegetables. I am not a mother. I am not responsible for anyone, but apparently that’s not a requirement for the job. So far the gig consists of copyediting a daily newsletter and working on a list of the year’s most popular baby names. Sophia, Olivia, and Emma are top contenders for girls. Jackson, Aiden, and Liam round out the boys. 

For extra cash I will go and hide in a phone room on my lunch break and transcribe exciting interviews other people have conducted. I will push ‘play’ on my phone and listen as a reporter asks their subject details about their life and type back what I hear. Pause. Rewind. Type again. Push ‘play.’ Repeat. 

Later today I will take the bus to Broadway – known for its strip clubs and bars – and work a shift at the historic Green Tortoise hostel. I worked the phones in their travel office all summer and still take on hours when I can. Every person staying at this quintessential San Francisco establishment has a unique story to share with me and they do. I’ve been told I have a good listening face. 

My phone vibrates as the bus passes Powell Street. I brace myself and reach into my purse to check my messages. It's a Tinder notification. I have a new message. Yippee? I’ve finally joined the dating app game and it’s terrifying and addicting all at once. 

Another buzz. A relationship coach I did some work for is confirming she has gotten my last invoice. The tone is short and terse but then again I could be reading into it like I tend to read into everything. 

The bus stops at Market and 3rd and I get off with the rest of the commuters. It's a beautifully unpredictable day in the city by the Bay and I’m ready for it.

Fast forward three years: It’s funny the things you can remember so clearly after something traumatic has happened. For example, I remember every minute detail of Monday, March 6, 2017, like it was yesterday. The day is a permanent video loop that plays over and over again in my head. 

I remember the sound of the garbage truck as it stopped outside my apartment at 6 a.m. to pick up the rain-beaten mattresses that had been sitting outside our building for days. I remember walking to an early morning yoga class and feeling proud of myself for getting up and starting my day off right. I remember thinking as I lay there in Shavasana, ‘This week I am going to focus. I am going to eat better, exercise daily, and drink less. This week I am going to start that short story that’s been circling around in my head. This week I’m going to do good.'

I remember being a few minutes late to work and sneaking into my morning kickoff. I remember taking a moment before diving into another packed day of writing copy about the benefits of peptides and hyaluronic acid when I saw my dad’s number light up my phone. I remember almost ignoring it, assuming he’s calling me back about a tax question. I remember feeling compelled to answer it. 

“Maggie, your brother’s plane is missing.” 

March 6, 2017. It's a beautifully unpredictable day in the city by the Bay and I’m not ready for it. I’m not ready at all. 

Fast forward ten years: I turned 40 about two months ago. How am I 40? I feel 40. But then again what does feeling 40, well, feel like? I have health insurance and a partner I adore. We have two beautiful children – a little boy and a little girl – both under three. We live in Portland and have built a life for ourselves here. I am happy. Overall, I am content. 

But there will always be March 6. Back in 2014, it was just another day on the calendar. Nothing special. Nothing to write home about. Now I can feel it coming weeks in advance. It is no longer a beautifully unpredictable day. In fact, it is quite predictable. It is the day I found out my younger brother died. It will always be a day I hold for him. 


Maggie Grainger is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. When she’s not putting pen to paper, you can find her hitting up toddler hot spots with her two young children, checking things off her to-do list, or listening to records and dancing manically around her basement. She is a former staff writer for iconic teen magazines, Tiger Beat and BOP, and believes life is more fun in technicolor. Check out her work at You can also find her on Instagram at @magpieg18.

She is currently a volunteer facilitator for the Dougy Center, a nonprofit that offers support, resources and connection for children and families before and after a death. She encourages you to check out the good work they’re doing at


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