I hold on to shards of the past like books, lining them up in my head in neat, orderly rows. Each of them is sorted into a shelf; happy memories, sad memories, nostalgic ones... Some of them are almost new, the spines barely cracked, dust floating off their pages as I open them for the first time. Some of them are torn and ripped, read and reread to the point of disrepair, the quickly scrawled words barely legible. All of them, old and new, good and bad, happy and sad, I keep close, tucked away in the depths of my mind. I preserve my happy childhood in these pages, grasp on to the warmth of inexplicable joy like a lost fantasy, a safe haven I can return to in my darkest moments.
I read these books–these memories–as a comfort, a reminder of who I used to be. Sometimes for nostalgia, sometimes for support, sometimes just to remember that in a time long long ago a cheerful little girl walked so I could run.
Once upon a time a younger me lived these pages, briskly skipping across lines of dialogue to meet their friends at the park, painting the neat cursive text with the dynamic brushes and turns of dance, dotting the ends of sentences with final jumps in 4th grade hopscotch matches.
I recall being asked as I graduated elementary school–a momentous occasion for me at the time–“What’s your best memory from 5th grade?” And I didn’t respond with “Halloween where I dressed up as Luna Lovegood,” or “decorating cookies at our Holiday Party.” I described a day I barely remembered at the time. I talked about a simple day with my friends, sitting on the grassy field, an endless blue sky above. Someone said something I can’t recall and we couldn’t stop laughing for a long long time.
At the time I didn’t know why that memory stuck with me so deeply, but I do remember the quiet. The silence of my own mind. I still think of that moment, even to this day: how easy the world was to breathe in back then. An inhale–friends, laughter, peace of mind; An
exhale–blissful undisturbed ignorance.
I believe in my past. I believe in the power it holds and the way it shapes me. I believe in the support it gives in the worst and best moments. And finally, I believe in the person I used to be, who I miss more and more every day. Trapped forever in time, unable to respond, all I can do is try to reach out. And remember.
Dear long lost me,
Do you recall laughing as you turned in assignments just on time? And stressing over tests but still maintaining straight As with ease? Do you remember the happy moments, the silly things you used to worry about; looks, crushes, even grades that didn’t really matter. There were days you didn’t have a care in the world, ignorant yes, but blissfully peaceful. Do you remember the moment everything changed?
Your desire for approval eventually shifted into a need. Your fierce independence paved the road for loneliness.Your obsession with perfectionism, a minor inconvenience at the time, became your life. The silly worries, unchecked, became more than just silly. They became a hell you created for yourself.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen you. All I have to remember you by is these books, these memories. We could catch up at a coffee shop, or meet at the park. I’d love to see you around some time. I miss your smile.
About the Author:
Levi Kim is a sixteen-year-old rising junior from the Bay Area and has been crafting stories for as long as they can remember. They enjoy the process of writing as a method of expression and advocacy, often delving into topics such as queerness, racial injustice, and environmentalism. They've written numerous short stories, essays, and most recently, a poetry collection.