Reasons to Remember
A very well-intentioned friend offered a suggestion to me, after I shared my feelings regarding the significance of this day, about the way it sort of “haunts” me each year; she said, “you need to create some new memories.” While it might not seem similar, I often equate this experience to a type of loss; no, I didn’t lose a loved one, but I lost myself. I lost the person who'd been protecting me and helping me hide my emotions for so many years; unfortunately, she'd stopped serving me well and it was time to move on.
I could easily revert to my “old,” inauthentic self, the safe path: the self that twists and turns every way in order to transform into the one I believe the individual standing in front of me, whoever that may be at the time, would most like for me to be. It would be much easier for me to forget what I’ve been through, stuff it all down inside, and “move on,” as I’ve been guilty of encouraging others to do.
Resisting that safe, easy path has proven a challenge; I need a reminder to stay true to my thoughts and beliefs, to speak out when I disagree or witness an injustice, and to take ownership of my self-worth without judgment. I need a reminder why automatically adopting another's perception or point of view, simply to gain their favor, will not provide me with the fulfilling, grounded connection that I seek.
Lest this sound completely serious and devoid of fun, there are plenty of other reasons I choose to remember and many of them provide a little comic relief, a little solace from the grim reality of the experience, and I thought I'd make note of a few.
- When necessary, I can poop in a bathroom stall that has no door (prior to this experience I could never make it happen anywhere but inside my own bathroom, at home).
- It is possible to make a Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (for an Easter celebration, no less) in a microwave with a combination of pounded shortbread cookies, butter and milk ("acquired" from the chow hall), dried pineapple pieces, a few sugar packets, and a lot of prayers.
- Most people will leave you alone if you have earbuds in your ears and sunglasses on your face; most, but not all. #neverthelessshepersisted
- Instant coffee: don't do it ever again (it's the only coffee we had access to and I resisted for as long as I could). EVER.
- The stories I carry with me are priceless (one of my prison "neighbors" once lived down the hall from Martha Stewart) and help me relate to people from all different walks of life.
Certainly no less significant, I also choose to remember the victims of the bombings during the 2013 Boston Marathon; I remember that having those as the first images I saw on television during my journey home cemented my decision to set new goals and follow new dreams; and I'll be thinking of those individuals today, as well as my friends and fellow teammates who will run on Monday.
Fly fast, free birds, and never stop dreaming.