To Ashes

Running through the crowd. Wearing my overalls. My flip flops weren’t enough. Hot, sweating, confused, whole, blinded by the lack of light, heart full of laughter, stomach full of food made from love. I fell to the warm grass, my back became one with the ground. Everything felt more alive. Every breathe I took mattered more. My friends fell next to me, one and then the others. In that moment, I knew where they all were. I knew they were right there. The fireworks would light up the sky, one after the other and then more and more and more. They would let me see. And what I saw was the stars in the sky, the moon hanging high, and my friends laying next to me.

Dressed in clothes that weren’t mine, that I was borrowing from the people who had become my family. The long skirt, the hat that was mine, the one I’d wanted all summer and decided to let go of. Of course, that was when it appeared in my hands. That is how it works. My watch encircled my wrists. Around my neck hung necklaces, in my ears were earrings. The smiles I smiled were real. Perhaps the realist they’ve ever been.

I picked her up in my arms. We laughed. The camera clicked. Nothing is constant except perhaps the people you love.

These are the moments, the moments I remember. There are so many more that I could list. I could go on and on, don’t you see? It is the moments that make me who I am, the moments that form me. I close my eyes and I see so many moments. I often wonder what my life would like if it were to flash before my eyes. Who would I see the most of? What feeling would pour through my body? Which have I felt the most? Who have I loved the most?

In yoga, we close our eyes. “Picture a beautiful place. The most beautiful place you’ve ever seen.” The answer to that appeared behind my eyes faster than she could say her sentence: Panama. The rolling hills of Azuero.

“Picture the person you feel the most gratitude for.”

That one was harder. I fought the images that formed behind my eyes, trying to sort through them all to just find one. There are so many people I love. So many people I care about. So many people I owe everything to. I couldn’t decide.

The people. The moments. They are who I am, but sometimes, just sometimes I am sitting alone at night, when all the truths come out with the stars, and I feel alone. It doesn’t matter then, the fact that I know so many people love me. No that fact never seems to matter at those moments, at this moment, in all honesty. In the night, all the secrets come out. In the night I feel alone and I often wonder where I am I supposed to be right now?

I went through the vast majority of my high school career believing that I belonged somewhere else. That I was supposed to be somewhere else. That somewhere else I would be happier, that somewhere else I would be more me than I was now. I felt that feeling almost the whole time I was in Panama. It is often not until the end that I realize I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

I haven’t felt that feeling in a long time. Not since Panama really.

I just felt this feeling though. For a moment, I wanted to go back. Back to all the memories, all the moments in my head. But the thing is: that’s where they are now. Just in my head, just in the picture frames. I can close my eyes and remember everything about them but they’re stuck now. Stuck in my mind and in the minds of the people I shared them with. You can’t go back. Not now, not ever. It is time to move forward and it’s okay to be scared, okay to want to disappear back into the familiar, but you can’t live there.

That’s why I type these words. I listen to the music. I close my computer. I push away from my desk. I move on.

Like Jack Shephard said: let it in for 5 seconds and then let it go.

I slammed against the warm grass. There were choruses of laughter surrounding me. The sky was black but moments later it was full of greens and reds and blues and purples. To think, I thought, I hadn’t wanted to come. To think I almost went home. The fireworks flashed and suddenly I could see it all, I could see everyone around me. How strange that is. How strange it all is.


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