Pieces of Me
I have green in my eyes from my mother and a nose just like my father. But I’m more than the features of my face, I’m like you - I’m pieces of people, places, moments, dreams, memories.
The most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen was out of a hospice window. It was a cold January and my grandfather’s bed was right by the window. It was hard to see him dying from ALS, it made me feel so unsettled. The last evening my brother and I went to visit him there was a vivid pastel sunburst outside the glass. it was like a million crayons exploded so vibrant and all the colors then melted and rested in a serene lullaby. Fiery with muted tones. My heart felt ready to burst.
Aren’t we more than just who we are? Aren’t we the things we love too? My favorite place to drive is Windmill Hill Road in Branford, CT. I love how the trees overlap with all their leaves of bitter scarlet, burnt orange, pale shy green, bleached yellow all intertwine like colorful hands. If my life was a collage it would be white lights on a summer night, the coastal mansions neglected and forced into foreclosure in Mississippi i’d have to take pictures of for work. I’d get lost in all the rooms imagining soft paintings of ballerinas and the overgrown gardens being secret and full of roses -romantic ghosts of a time past. I imagined the hands and hearts that went into building each part of their home. What music they played, what they wore, I imagined what they left behind and hoped they went to a place bigger and brighter. I have a bit of that Irish Sadness, that writer’s curiosity, but I also love nothing more to laugh and be around those who make me laugh.
Part of me are memories of spending summers seaside at Mansfield Grove - a magical private beach enclave my grandparents’ had a sweet & cozy cottage in. Swimming and running and being under the summer sun with my brothers and cousins through those warm months are etched like pretty cursive in my mind. Sandy feet, sun-streaked hair, the smell of watermelon and grilled food mingling with the wind chimes made for a perfect coastal sensory delight. Fireflies sparkling behind a setting sun still make my eyes crinkle with joy.
Of course I am the joy and trauma of my childhood, I am the love and hurt I both felt deeply growing up. I am friendships that have survived and thrived over time, conversations over champagne, laughing. Or those long conversations about our childhoods, almost crying but we don’t, we just keep going. I am also friendships that didn’t stand the test of time. If I spent time with you and only you for a moment of time, of course you’re a part of my heart for better or worse, as long as my memory still holds you there.
I am pieces of love stories, they don’t define me but of course there are somethings that the heart just doesn’t forget. There are love stories where it’s friendship and you both know you shouldn’t cross the line or it’ll compromise your friendship. We were young and like the song “Halfcrazy” by Musiq Soulchild goes - “when we kissed, the moment after I looked at you different /Lately I gotta watch what I say /Cause you take things personal nowadays/ You used to laugh now you get mad / Damn, I just want my friend back”. We used to drive around and talk about geography - a mutual obsession we had. We’d go to different little towns and get lost and name the type of architecture a house was built. I never liked bagels until you and you’d beg me to try different types of cream cheese until it was my favorite thing to eat. You are or were, the funniest person I know but it seemed like we weren’t laughing as much when we started dating. I know we are cool now but I haven’t seen or talked to you in years. Some of my favorite memories are of us just as friends, laughing, bar-hopping or party-hopping or going on our day excursions, hiking in private property, getting lost but having a blast. Summer nights and winter days, all so endless and young.
Then there’s that friendship that I didn’t expect to fall in love but looking back I can’t imagine it any way else. We were and are so different. I believe we met for a reason - you helped sooth my anxiety and in return, when you got sober I filled up your days and nights with fun, non-alcoholic things to do. You started coming with me to take photos of flowers and trees, you were reluctant at first then loved going into cafes and museums. You helped sort my anxiety meds as I planned little day excursions for us to get away and take in the fun and magic of downtowns that didn’t belong to our home state. There’s much more to our story than adventure though. I loved what we built but i hated what we had. We just could never seem to get it to work. Circles and cycles. And each time I think you are part of my past, I end up in some retro diner in some small town talking and laughing with you, wondering why it can’t always be this way. You aren’t just a piece of me, you are much more than that. You have a ivy-covered spiral staircase to my heart and you know it.
I’m my anxiety and trauma I never dealt with, sure, but I’m also joy and laughter. I’m peonies on a bright day, and lilies in a rain storm. I’m a vintage dress, lace gloves, and a vinyl record. I’m a strand of blonde hair and the bright colors of Miami, the blues and yellows of New England, the purples and golds of New Orleans. Swimming under the stars, cocktails in shimmery dresses, hopeless summer romances, tulle skirts, a box full of Polaroids of my father and other little mementos. We are all so many things.
Who are you?