An unsettling feeling rattled my bones as I mouthed the word goodbye to the house I called my home. I was nineteen. I did not cry. And for some strange reason I did not look back.
We cross borders lightly
Nothing carries us,
but as we move on
we carry rain,
and an accent,
and a memory
of another place.
to another place.
So i pushed forward. Marched onward. I filled my world with the neon glow of another life and place. I fell in love. I changed my life.
Until we meet again….
I saw a trail of people taking a corpse. The smoke from the incense sticks drew a line, showed me the way and I took a turn I haven’t in years. Emotions led me astray and I ended up at the soil that had my blood, sweat and tears. This used to be the place I was born, the house I called my home, the place I grew up, lived. It’s empty now, nobody lives here, all dead and gone.
I normally never take the route that would bring me by the building; there are too many incidents attached to it, too many emotions. I run away from emotions like you would from bullets. That day i did not. I took the shots. And i suffered multiple wounds. They say everything in life is temporary. It was the beginning of january when I first tasted those words with full understanding of the weight they carried. The air was in its final stage of transitioning into severe winter, but in recollection, not nearly as cold as the ice that froze my heart. In what could only be described as the most wearing walk of my life, I felt those words rattling my bones as I willed my legs to move. With painfully vivid recall, I remember the sinking feeling with each step i took.
“Excuse me,” a wrinkled man coughed as he came to stand beside me, “do you live here?”He was a tea seller. He had earthen pots. Offered me a cup. I accepted . I paid.
He asked the same question again.
I smiled sadly, wondering if he understood the immense poignancy of his innocent question. We live in homes, not houses, but what makes a home different from a house? Warmth does. Love does. And people.
Had I lived here? Yes, I had.
Do I live anywhere now, except for in the yellow, parched pages of old books, sharing sentences with fictional characters?
“I used to,” I told him. “I don’t anymore.”
I drank the tea and it was the worst I had ever tasted. I paid for the poison and the answer.
It’s funny how life can go from static to dynamic in a single heartbeat, isn’t it? The fraction of a moment can change everything. In physics, moment means a turning effect produced by a force acting at a distance on an object. The force was nostalgia. And it turned me into a five year old, complete in uncoordinated clothing and dozens of hair clips.
My jejune existence escalated to a mosaic of blues and blacks and yellows in a millisecond. In all these years, my recollection of my own past had faded. It was like an old painting, with no vibrance in the colors and the brush strokes covered with dust. Over time, it took me longer and longer to recreate the memories– I remembered the atmosphere first. Always. Never, ever, had I paid any attention to little details like the cold weather with the winter sun or the crispness of the winter air. But while reminiscing, I recalled those tiny details: the color of the pale blue sky, the detergent-like smell of the lotion my friend applied, the coolness of the mud that covered the large garden.There will be things you cannot erase from your memory and i wasn’t trying hard to fail. White knuckles that grip these windows, tears that were inflicted, joys shared…..the memory will forever be bound to these images – flickering visions of choices I cannot undo. I wasn’t supposed to be the haunted one in this equation. But i wasn’t sure how to manage the heaviness, so I was struggling to ignore it. Until I couldn’t.
It had been home to me. I don’t usually cry, but at that moment, I wanted to. But I’m a stubborn, tenacious girl, so I only sighed a deeply unhappy sigh. When I finally got to my car, I stood with my hand gripping the door, as if somehow begging to hang on. Was I begging for the past to come back? I don’t know. I fought back tears as the house faded in the background and out of my periphery and I started to understand the transience of life — how even the prominent buildings simply fade away in the dark, and how quickly things change. Nothing lasts forever. Not even love. Not even life. People die. People leave.
I got home that night and found myself digging through old photos. Old birthday cards. Old yearbooks. I realized I was digging. Digging for the past, digging to bring it all back to life, digging for hope, digging for answers. And why. Maybe I was digging to leave everything there. To go through it one last time…..and to let it all go.
What I found in the process of digging through and grieving over my past, is that you miss out on what’s present. You miss out on the person you are. On the things you’ve accomplished. On the people who love you, and the people you love. The person you grew up to be after closing that chapter. You neglect to realize that pieces of you may have cracked, your heart may be a little jagged in places you aren’t sure will ever heal, but you’re here. You matter. Now matters.
I’ve been taking a little bit of time here and there to go through old things and box them up. As long as they’re there, sitting on the top of my closet shelf, they’ll be safe with me. But I don’t need to listen to the music that breaks my heart. I don’t need to look through pictures to remind me of better or worse days. The past, my home, my childhood will always be there — a distant echo in my head and my heart.
But for now, I packed those memories up and tucked them in the back of my closet. I’ve locked them up.
I let them go.
“You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy. So let them go, let go of them..”
-C. Joybell C