The most populous and prosperous city in Regina Peyton Cody’s native state of Georgia was Atlanta, which was also sensibly its capital. She had to adjust to the dissonance of Olympia or Salem having that honor over Seattle or Portland. It ran counter to what she perceived as the natural order of existence — the biggest and most powerful is the best: a simple rule she’d mastered early in her life. And that’s what was important to understand about Gina Merrick, as she was now known: She always followed the rules. So, after graduating from Lovett in 1997, she’d left Atlanta for Seattle, advancing several ambitious but still conservative rungs up the metropolitan ladder, and enrolled at the University of Washington, a school that ranked higher than her older brother Tom’s alma mater, UGA (when he was there in the early ’90s, she’d refer to it as “Ugh!” in that way younger sisters had).
Tom graduated from “Ugh!” in 1994 and leaped straight to New York, the largest city in the country. He’d floundered there without any real agenda, which was regrettable but nonetheless worked to Gina’s advantage. The Northwest was easier to sell to her parents now. It boasted fresh air and actual trees, all in stark contrast to that urine-tinted garden of hobos and gang members planted in the middle of Manhattan.
Tom had also moved to New York with a girl of questionable background named “Jasmine.” (People of questionable backgrounds always named their children after nature… for instance, some form of shrubbery — “Rose” or “Violet ” — or even the elements — “Rain” or “Storm” — because they had nothing else.) Gina was not so reckless as to entertain a relationship with someone socially unacceptable; however, she allowed her parents to believe it was possible (there was power in unpredictability), so a city that restricted its diversity to its foliage had a natural appeal to the Codys over New York and even Atlanta.
So Regina Cody headed west.
–from The Wrong Questions