My Walls by Claire W.

My Walls
by Claire W.

I am obsessed with moments. Rather, I am obsessed with preserving moments. Years of transitioning from school to school as an army brat, both gaining experiences and losing friendships, has shaped my adoration of memories.

In sixteen years, I have occupied eight houses.

Still, my remembrances have provided me with the greatest sense of home.

In sixteen years, I have occupied eight houses.

Moving never becomes easier.

Now, reflecting on each move, I chastise myself for overreacting. Once I acclimate to a new area, I tend to enjoy it more than the last. Despite recognizing this cycle, however, I return to its familiar clutches every couple years, eyes flooding at boxed belongings, wishing I could stay just a bit longer.

At the end of my eighth grade year, I discovered the army re-stationed my family in Pennsylvania. We were to leave in June. After a rough three years, I thought I was ready to leave. Still, I found myself distraught.

I procured opportunity in our new house. Without the confines of furniture, the empty walls promised another beginning. As my unpacked boxes filled the space, my possessions suffused a beautiful, wistful nostalgia, piecing together my jagged shards, seizing my appreciation, and reflecting a reinvigorated smile. In stark contrast, the new walls remained desolate, stressing the vastness of this new space and the hole in my life, an absence of friends, that seemed to grow deeper and deeper. A month and a half stood between me and a new school year. I needed to cope.

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I spent hours staring blankly into the walls, seeking some understanding. Desperate, with too much time for too many thoughts, encircled by an unfamiliar place, I sought pictures online for inspiration. I stumbled upon an old friend’s photo collage. Suddenly, I knew how to make the space my own.

I painstakingly searched through boxes and files for photos and items that evoked the same beautiful nostalgia that permeated my initial unpacking. Stocking my walls extended me a sense of purpose in the remaining weeks of summer.

Race bibs, blissful and often blurry snapshots, and small trinkets immortalize the things I hope to remember– good and bad. A poorly-lit picture, captured outdoors, preserves a design in flashlight beams and hails the possibilities of experimentation and camaraderie. A dead flower, gifted to me as I battled a knee injury and choked tears wracked my chest, haphazardly taped to an invitational race bib, urges me to persist in spite of setbacks and reminds me of a friend’s comforting presence. A collection of three-word phrases, gathered from the headers of my monthly planner, elicit old inside jokes shared over raucous laughter.

My walls sustained me throughout my first year in Pennsylvania. As I continue to grow and forge new experiences, my walls change, in the mementos they feature, alongside me. Although I hesitantly observed these changes at first, I have grown to embrace my development. I face my walls.

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Growing Up by Brittani Dozier

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