No poems this time. This is me talking strictly to you, so buckle up.
A dear friend of mine recently told me, “you have a memory like an elephant. It means your memory is really sharp. Elephants don’t forget anything.” She couldn’t be any more right. As a matter of fact, you could say I live as elephants do: constantly carrying a trunk wherever I go. Forgive the pun but hear me out.
If I had to measure when I started my journey, when I began to: form concrete memories and critical thought of the world, first grade would do it. That would place it to almost 25 years ago. I was around five/six years old, trying to make sense with what little I understood at the time. I mean I was too young to understand how to understand, so whatever experience came my way, whether a success or a mistake, I was given an automatic pass.
I can remember growing up, sheltered yet willing to open myself to others. I remember sharing my favorite toys, my favorites games, words, food, shows, and anything else kids loved to talk about at that age. The one thing that I learned quickly, and unfortunately then, is how children, by no fault of their own, are completely unfiltered, real, Freudian Id personified. Whatever came to their minds, they just spoke it out, whether it’s cute, crude or hurtful. Now, I realize the argument on how children are far too young to realize what they say or do could potentially affect each other. Naturally, bullied children would face the brunt of this commonality society has to deemed to be “kids being kids”. However, I am a true believer in which whatever happens in the process of growing up, can have potential lasting impacts onto adulthood either positively or negatively; but that discussion is for another time. I just know what I’ve been through. Scars never fade away.
It was at that time until maybe, the tail end of college where I closed myself off from others. I never truly got along with people my age. Teachers and adults in general, were the ones I stood close with because teachers would never harass you about your weight, or leave you to have lunches by yourself at the bench tables. Sure, I had some friends I could talk with but it few and far between. I learned quickly about betrayal, deceit, aggression, cliques, isolation, mob-rule and I didn’t even hit middle school yet. Those building blocks I would carry in my truck as I slowly matured. Think of it this way: if kids were the hares of growing up, I was the tortoise; I would get there eventually but I would always be late to the party.
As I’m about close to turning thirty years old, I realize now that some things are beyond my control. Till now, I’ve always had one foot in the past and one foot into the future, yet I never stepped into the present. I never truly enjoyed what I had in front of me. I just couldn’t let go. Letting go meant leaving the trunk behind. The large, black heavy trunk I’ve carried well past its prime. Whenever I felt sad, angry, disappointed, they would go right into the trunk. You see I always make it a point to never forget anything. There are people I knew, and even people I know now, hopefully reading this, where if they bring happiness to me, or if I’m slighted negatively, I would carry that with me, into the trunk. It could’ve happened ten years ago or ten days ago, each instance is catalogued. I believe it’s a somewhat petty coping defense mechanism.
I realize now that I have to leave the trunk behind. I have to let go of that part of myself. As clichés as it might sound, I truly know now who I am, what I can give, and what I want in a life. I know now not to waste my energy on things and people that don’t bring me joy, or aren’t there for me. I know whom I care for, and whom I can leave behind because that’s life. Life moves on, and I can’t take everyone with me, including my former self, still sitting at that bench having lunch by himself; that boy, I can safely say as he turns thirty soon, knows how to enjoy his own company. He doesn’t need others to define who he is, what he should be doing, or what his choices are. He can survive with people, and without people. A fortress on a lone island: welcomes visitors but can manage on it’s own. A fortress guarded by the most fearsome, dangerous yet kind, lovable elephants in the world.
Andy Quintana is here again in a slightly different style. We hope you enjoyed his piece!