Ships passing in the night.
Safe as houses.
Thick as thieves.
They say a picture can say a thousand words. But sometimes, only a few words can paint a thousand pictures. These are some of the phrases that I love. They hold meaning, allude to other things, and stand alone. They tell stories without saying much at all.
They are like we are to those who know us. Without words, without body language, without context, we can be known. What lies beneath and what holds us together and what can break us apart. Someone can simply look and be aware of it all. Because they know, when your eyes look up, your fingers still on the keys and you chew your bottom lip, you're on the verge of something.
When I write, when I try to say something that reflects what it is that is inside of me or the world that I see through my eyes, I sometimes fail. Truthfully, I almost always fail. I wanted to convey one idea, and it gets taken in an entirely different way. I used to love that about poetry - reading through my classmates' writing, finding metaphors and allusions and allegories that they themselves weren't even aware they had placed between the lines. I remember reading a poem from one of the most brilliant writers and fellow student I encountered in grad school. We were all blown away by her masterful crafting of the images of death and rebirth and the cynicism of life. It inspired me. It made me want to throw away nonfiction and devote my life to poetry.
She told us at the end of our praising that it was about baseball.
That's the tricky thing about writing, and the even trickier thing about writing memories. Our past is a construction. We write one thing and it can sound and seem like so many other things. Few of us recorded every breathing moment, we do not have a film or a clip or transcripts to let us know what it was the exactly happened. Our ghosts slip through the filter of experiencing joy and pain and triumph and failure. When we look back only to write forward, things will appear opaque. The lines are going to blur. Truth does not exist.
When I write backwards, when I look to the past to fill the lines of my present, I am attempting to hold my five, twelve, nineteen and twenty two year old self close and let her know that everything is going to be alright. I revisit the ghosts of myself only to realize that even though I wasn’t sure how everything would turn out, I would figure it out. I can take care of it. I can take care of myself. When I look back and reexamine the things that happened to me and my experiences, I am reminded that we are resilient.
We carry on.
I carry on.
As Joan Didion said, I want to “keep in touch with the people we used to be” because everyone else is transient and temporary. I only carry myself with me.
Looking back and reflecting upon what I did and said and experienced is enlightening and humbling. I wasn’t able to voice how I felt and what I thought when I was five. I didn't know then that I would eventually be a grownup. I didn't know I would have responsibilities and freedoms larger than I had ever been prepared for. I didn't know life was going to be so hard. I didn't know life was going to be so unexpected. I didn't know so much. I didn't know I would be able to look back and be grateful for what came before. I didn't know I would cherish the struggles.
Now I do.
I remember so that I will not be forgotten.