The back of the library book I recently took out was not stamped with a return date and to locate the book I did not use a card catalog, but rather a computer. The library itself was new, large, and different from the old one. I did not like this. The world around me was changing. But as I sit here in my bed, with my bear I’ve slept with for as long as I can remember, photos of me and friends hung on the walls, none of which are recent, mostly the same ones that I’ve hung up since I moved into school three years ago. My world has changed merely slightly. The outside world however, now that’s a different story.
I’ve hated change for as long as I can remember. Somewhere along the line I let it consume me. I’ve never crossed the line of temptation; I’ve always stayed on the safe side- but is that who I truly am? Or is it who I molded myself into being based on the unchangeable. Am I stuck in this place? Have I created my own prison and not ever noticed the metal bars surrounding me all these years? Can I break out of my own cell? I’m sure I could. But I do want to leave the four walls that have kept me safe all these years and enter a world of the unknown?
Changing after twenty-two years seems impossible, or is it? Is that just what I tell myself so I stay confine to my usual cell? Do I tell myself that it is impossible so I don’t break free and enter a world I am unprepared to survive in? My eyes have been opened, but my door remains shut, locked, and yet I have the key in my hand. I have the power to change the path I’m currently on. But is it something I’m ready to do? How will I know when I’m ready? Will I lose my safe cell forever if I choose to unlock the door? Or will I be able to return if the outside world was not for me? The answers lie solely within me; I just haven’t found them yet.
But I can remember a time in my life when I was free, I knew exactly who I was, I had no questions or doubts about it. Yet, somewhere along the way I lost my innocence, and with the loss of my youth, I lost myself. Or was it that I got so lost in him in letting him control me, verbally abuse me, and break my heart over and over again—maybe I allowed him to let me lose sight of who I was, and after years of a dysfunctional relationship I forgot what it felt like to be happy, more importantly, I forgot who I was. It became unclear what truly mattered to me, and ultimately, I lost sight of what made me, who I was. Distinguishable, tangy, sour: a grain of salt.
A small burst of flavor that has the ability to jazz up anything and everything it comes in contact with. Unchangeable and irreplaceable, I love salt. I collect salt shakers. Strange, so I’ve been told. Most people collect stamps, coins, even rocks. I’ve yet to understand the fascination one could possibly have with an illustrated piece of paper, that’s been licked by another person, and costs five cents. Of course I’m sure my appeal for salt shakers comes across as skeptical in some minds too. Since I have never met anyone else that collects salt shakers I feel like I deserve the title unique. Ironically enough, I possess certain qualities that are similar to salt. Salt leaves an everlasting taste on the food you put it on, somewhat like my personality. When I meet someone for the first time, I like to think that I leave an everlasting impression. Like a burst of life, so strong that it makes the moment unforgettable. But just as that flavor of salt eventually leaves your mouth, I imagine my impression does the same.
When did this strange habit start? It was my junior year of high school; January 24, 2003. I remember the date because it was my friend Bufey’s birthday. This was my first offense; at TGI Friday’s in Methuen. The night felt perfect, everyone was smiling, and I didn’t want the night to end. But just like every other night, it eventually had to. I took what I considered a keepsake, something that I could look at years later as a reminder when the memories start to fade. So I slipped the salt shaker into my bag. When I got home I decided to write the date on it along with the initials of who was there. I then tuck it away in a box under my bed. Salt shakers quickly became like a scrap book to me. So years later when I take out that box from under my bed, I can look at the date, the people that were there, and remember the times I wished would never end.
Those shakers remind me of moments from a particular day, the funny things that were said, and the drama that unfolded. More importantly, those salt shakers remind me of my past, who I was, who I am, and who I always will be. This was the last time I can remember, when I really knew who I was. This was the night before I started dating Derek (previously referred to as “him”). Little did I know at the time, but he was going to change everything, including me; and I wouldn’t ever be that girl I was on that January night in 2003 ever again. I’ve come to blame Derek for lots of flaws in my personality. Mostly, I blame Derek for my statue like life. I feel trapped. I don’t know how to move forward, and let go. I don’t know how to let anyone else in and I’m too afraid to let go for fear that Derek is the one for me.
Twenty-three, bruised, broken, and alone
Her heart is frozen, hard as a stone
Covered in scars and gashes, never to heal
Yet these blemishes are easy to conceal
Paints on a smile, she has too much pride
She never reveals the pain, keeps it deep inside
Doesn’t trust a soul, never lets anyone in
An imperfect heart shows where she’s been
Heartbreaks and betrayals, hurt and tears
Voids that seem to grow larger over the years
Always clinging to the past, never lets go
Tries to move forward, the process is slow
Her heart isn’t as whole as it was before
With every experience it alters a little more
But those missing pieces and one’s that don’t fit quite right
Represent people she loved who are no longer in sight
Tattoos of memories she doesn’t regret
Sacred moments she’ll never forget