“Memories, even your most precious ones, fade surprisingly quickly. But I don’t go along with that. The memories I value most, I don’t ever see them fading.” -Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go
I’m sitting on the dock in my backyard, legs dangling in the black water that is sparkling with the reflection of the million twinkling stars above. I’m counting these stars with a best friend, delirious with fatigue and happiness and the unfathomable depth of the universe. Then we’re singing, belting out some song at the top of our lungs, letting the sound bounce across to the other side of the cove. We look out at the vast lake, and up at the crystal clear constellations, and in that moment, time is nothing and just existing is everything.
I’m standing on the porch, looking down at the lawn (far) below. I don’t remember the thoughts running through my head, but all of a sudden, I’m climbing on the railing. And I’m standing there, toes curling over the edge. I lift my arms up over my head and close my eyes, feeling the vertigo of the black swirling in front of my eyelids, my body willing itself closer to the edge. I open my eyes. And then I jump.
I’m with my family, in an unfamiliar city. Finally, we are all together, after years of being apart. We’re in a limo, for reasons I never really figured out. There’s laughter, and there’s no music, so I’m singing. I lock eyes with my brother for a second, and we both break out into cackles, because somehow we just know that something that’s in both of our heads is funny. And all of a sudden, the car is stopping, the door is opened, and we’re piling out. We’re at a monument of some sort, a monument that is roped off with a sign telling us to look but don’t touch. And then we’re running up the stairs, even my grandma, with the snow swirling around our rosy faces. I pause on the steps as my aunt tells me to strike a pose. After the camera clicks, I’m scrambling up and up, until I’m at the top. Gazing out at the city, and around at the faces of the people I love, I can’t help but smile. And really smile.
I’m laying on a bed, its not mine, it never will be mine. It’s foreign, the room is foreign, the whole place is a land that I don’t want to be a part of. I’m crying, sobbing hysterically all over the scratchy sheets that will never feel like home. I bury my head into the pillow and scream as loud as I can, just to prove to myself that I’m still alive. And no one comes running.
I put my hands to the black and white keys, and then my fingers take over, my muscles guiding them through a familiar melody. I play until I forget, until it’s only me and the sound echoing in the empty room, bouncing against the stark white walls. My fingers move gracefully across the ivory, and I’m amazed at their memory, unaffected by the events unfolding around me. I play until everything fades away.
I’m running down the halls of my elementary school, feeling a sense of rebellion as I break the one rule that has been pounded into my brain over the years. I don’t have on shoes, and I’m sliding around on the tile in my socks. I laugh as I run faster, stop, and then slide as far as I can. I’m with friends, and they laugh and follow my lead. We pass a teacher, and my heart beats faster with nervousness. But she doesn’t scold—instead, she smiles.
I pull my suitcase over the lump of carpet that has folded up in the corner and walk through the sliding glass doors. My eyes search for a familiar car, but I can’t find it. The warm, humid air is like a big hug welcoming me home. I don’t recognize the car, but then I see her. My mom is still the same, glossy brown hair and beautiful, deep brown eyes that widen when they see me. I quicken my pace, but what is this that I’m feeling? I don’t know, and I don’t care. I drop the suitcase and am embraced in the best hug that there ever was. I crumple into her; every pore of my being feels a sigh of relief. My cheeks are wet but I’m not sad; I don’t know what I am. But it doesn’t matter, because I’m home.