It was one day before her 21st birthday when Leigh Packard walked through the graffiti on the alley wall into a world unlike anything in her remotest imaginings.
Attending UCSD meant she got to leave the harsh winters of Chicago for the sunny warmth of southern California. Not that she couldn’t deal with cold. Growing up in the frozen white north, you acclimatized or you moved to Florida.
Or San Diego.
She’d acclimatized for years. Her childhood and later school years were full of snow and ice. Online friends in warmer places ribbed her about the one-day summer, joked about meeting penguins and polar bears on her daily run, and generally gave her a hard time about the northern winters.
She’d pushed back, defending the place she’d grown up, secretly agreeing with every word they said.
When her parents announced they were selling the house and moving to Florida, and also announced that the profit allowed them to pay for a degree at virtually any university she chose, she jumped at the chance to flee her homeland for warmer climes.