The Things I carried with me
Dear Anybody who feels like nothing matters,
When my mother sent me to school my first year, she gave me four things to carry in my colorful backpack: a hand-packed lunch, slender wooden pencil, wide-lined notebooks, and my favorite book.
The lunch tasted like home and reminded me of my younger brother and sister, who would hopefully miss playing with me before they complained about taking a nap, and I could share the little edible treasures with my peers around me, creating instant friends with cookies.
The pencil I used to write letters that formed my name, and then simple words I was learning to sketch, “Beauty” “friendship” “love.” I traced the words over and over again until the graphite letters on paper were written in my soul.
The notebook was for my own stories: it was my escape when I decided I wanted to fight dragons or I wanted to be a wolf racing across the arctic tundra. The stories were memories that were saved so I would never forget them, and I could share the secrets concealed in my mind with anyone who was willing to listen.
The book helped me pronounce my words so I could speak the words that others wrote. I tasted the sound of music as I read from the pages, written by someone who I had never met, but felt like I knew.
I began carrying other things to school: textbooks, homework, insecurity, and, like always, my favorite book. Each weighed down in my backpack until I slouched as I walked through hallways thick with other students gathering items as they pushed through like crowds of fish in the water to their next class.
The textbooks were now, thick, and they were not fun to read and I could not even name the authors, and they were people I didn’t know and never wished to know. I had to memorize their words and facts, such as The United States of America has 50 states and they declared themselves independent in 1776.
The homework was another chore that I could argue with my parents about. I wrote down more pointless facts that had nothing to do with my own existence or my thoughts and feelings. Pi goes on for infinity, but is usually just 3.14, and the best poetry is happy and has rhymes at the end.
The insecurity was shared with me at lunch by other peers. They gave me tips to lose weight so my thighs would be skinny, and they gave me toilet paper to stuff my bra so I would have boobs so boys would find me pretty. They gave me expectations and parameters that I never seemed to know how to fit into.
My favorite book still helped me pronounce the phrases I was constantly forgetting: You do not have to change for anyone, and even ordinary people can be great, and someday you will meet someone who loves every part of your entity, and you will get your happily ever after.
On my last day of my senior year, I don’t carry anything in my hands, but I am full to the brim of hand-packed lunches, slender wooden pencils, wide-lined notebooks, and my favorite books.
I am full of the lunches with my friends; smoking cigarettes in our cars and scrounging up quarters to indulge in fast-food delicacies. The hand-pack lunches no longer make me miss my brother and sister laughing with mother, but laughing with my friends, the boys I loved, and the people I had grown up sharing ideas, tears, and dreams with.
The slender wooden pencils are my actions and how I go about writing my own life. I learn that you can never completely erase yourself but sometimes you can cross out words and replace them with others: I am ugly. I am beautiful. I write the words that everyone should be able to write as well as their own name: You are not worthless and your life will turn out perfectly okay.
I carry the notebooks and the memories of my own thoughts and feelings. Poems that I have written that do not rhyme, because anything that matters comes raw from the heart.
The seemingly pointless facts about myself are now pieces to my soul:
Coffee is mandatory to function, falling asleep without music is impossible, and not every boy you meet will want to have sex with me and break my heart.
Life has certain facts that were are never taught to remember but must always keep with us or else we will lose hope: Nothing sad lasts forever, but neither does anything happy so you can’t take any moment for granted.
You need to love like your heart is unbroken, smile like you’ve never watched the news, and laugh as tears are nothing but falling raindrops.
I carry the books I have read: the ones that were assigned in class and I fought a war not to spark-note. The quotes from authors and poets that remind me that I am alive, and that anybody can go on an adventure.
You don’t have to be five foot eight, tan, and skinny to save the world; you can be a lanky, awkward teenager to make a difference. People might be phony but you have to learn to find the real parts about everyone and love them.
Your prince charming isn’t somebody riding on a valiant white steed, but it might be your best friend or the stranger who sat in the back of the room quietly every day. And your first love isn’t going to be your last love, and your first friend isn’t always your best friend.
The books have beginnings, and although the pages come to an end, their ideas and stories are endless.
Some days we might be carrying all the wrong things and we might feel so full that we cannot let anyone or anything else into our heart. But like pi, we deem that it is 3.14 and that we can only carry so much, but pi is actually infinite.
We are infinite, and the things we do and the places we go are also infinite. We might die carrying nothing, but we will carry everything: the people we loved, the friends we cherished, and the dreams we chased, and only then when we are laid far deep underneath the ground, will we be completely full, so until then we have to hold our heads high, wear our flaws and strengths with pride, and never be afraid to walk through life with open-arms.
a lost soul who is now somehow okay