It’s too early to judge quite yet, but it seems this outer layer of my identity crumbles away when the material is eliminated.
My old writings are gone to dust, therefore I was never a writer. Never mind if I know in my heart that I may have once been, because there’s no longer proof. The chaos of second semester junior year and the bulk of senior year never happened because the evidence is in shreds and/or decaying in some distant landfill. All my doubts, dears, sins, dreams, revelations, secrets, angst, ponderings returning to dust and never to be revisited.
I lost my USB drive shortly after graduation somehow. All the college app essays that in the end didn’t do me much good, all the AP lit essays I churned out at the last minute are also gone.
Now if the folders stuffed with all the letters dating back to sophomore year are truly disposed of, the in-between, more intimate, most important parts of my high school experience may have never happened. I will be lost and stranded. This is the price I pay. This is what happens when I build a paper tent for a shelter, something I knew then and know now cannot protect me forever.
In the end I don’t have many material possessions. In a reckless act of desperation I collected all the belongings I would want to take with me if I should ever want to really leave.
Everything I want to keep fits in a standard manila envelope:
- High school diploma
- Two small photo albums, artifacts of my childhood
- Journal I kept throughout high school during the summers
- Spare bills I have laying around the room
- Blank small journal
- Current journal
- Favorite pen
It’s hard to judge times in your life. Truth is hard. I am now. I can’t depend on the material to remind me that I was or have been or might still be.
Trees are still growing, the sky is still blue, birds are chirping, neighbors are well into beginning another day, all are unconcerned about my back-and-forth analysis of my vague sense of loss.
This morning my brother told me, “You’ve centered your life around something unstable.”
He’s right, but I know I’m going to keep writing because I don’t know what else to do.
The title of this post is in reference to one of my favorite pieces of writing by Margaret Atwood “The Tent”