My parents have been decluttering their home of 23 years. Before throwing away or donating items they've hoarded over the years, they have offered everything to me and my sister. It's surprising what you discover you can't live without and what you can. I went through file cabinets filled with my paintings from preschool, math tests from Kindergarten, favorite books, middle school notes from friends still meticulously folded--oh boy, the slang we used! A few examples: "Hey! Sup?..."; "LYLAS (Love Ya Like A Sis)"; "TTFN (Ta Ta For Now)"--see, we were texting 'old school' way back in the nineties before it even existed! My favorite items from my past were probably the few writing examples I saved from middle school and a few poems from a high school writing class, "Short Stories and Poetry".
Ironically, one of the items I saved from middle school was a poem I wrote entitled, "Remember When..." where I remembered back to the days of our 'childhood'. Now that I'm really not a child, I am enjoying smiling at the writing I did, laughing at how my main character in my most beloved 8th grade story, Unforgotten Love, went straight into a deep and loving relationship with her boyfriend on the first date and he reveals that he might have AIDS. Spoiler Alert!: he does and there is a tragic ending where I'm sure I expected my readers to be swept away at the sadness and love. Oh how far (I hope) I've come.
I was amazed at the memories that were sparked by looking at and reading various items. I sometimes remembered not just owning the items, but how the items made me feel at the time. Teenage angst is a very real thing! The most vivid memory of this came back to me when I found the shred of paper that changed everything for me. It was a tiny back-and-forth note with one of my best friends of that time in 7th grade. It was the note that started my bullying from that friend and a few of her cronies. I'll spare you the details of my bullying, but I will tell you that it occurred in the hallways, in class, at lunchtime, in notes, over the phone, on the bus and even following me home. All this from one of my 'best friends'. I saved that one-inch torn scrap of paper all these years, placing it at the bottom of my 8th Grade Time Capsule, so I would always remember that black part of my life, but see how I healed and came out much stronger and wiser than my bully.
That part of my life is thankfully over--would any of us want to go back to our middle school days? No, but it's wonderful and therapeutic to reminisce about good times and bad and see how far you've come. Life gets so much better! Through my digging of memories, the assignment I found from the Short Stories and Poetry class from high school, included a few original poems and a collection of my favorite poems. My top favorite out of those connects exactly to that most negative point. Here it is:
by Charles Simic
Go inside a stone
That would be my way.
Let somebody else become a dove
Or gnash with a tiger's tooth.
I am happy to be a stone.
From the outside the stone is a riddle:
No one knows how to answer it.
Yet within, it must be cool and quiet.
Even though a cow steps on it full weight,
Even though a child throws it in a river;
The stone sinks, slow, unperturbed
To the river bottom
Where the fishes come to knock on it
I have seen sparks fly out
When two stones are rubbed,
So perhaps it is dark inside after;
Perhaps there is a moon shining
From somewhere, as though behind a hill-
Just enough light to make out
The strange writings, the star-charts