When I was little, I used to be one of those kids who would write, “Melanie was here” on the most random things. My mom was rather unhappy with me when I carved my full name into an antique table nearly twelve years ago. Now, when I think of that memory, I find it funny…a little weird, but still funny. Even when I was six years old, I still wanted to make a mark.
Now, I look around and everything and everyone moves so quickly. I’m reminded of blurry pictures and funny things like ice cream melting on sidewalks, or things done too hastily. Every now and then I sit in parks and watch peacefully as another day goes by in such a hurry. I see people’s names on trees and I think of when I was six, carving my name into another piece of wood. It makes me feel like the need I have to leave something behind is shared with others. I feel human. There is somebody else who, as they carved their name into a tree, understood my similar need to leave something behind.
I think I’ve always been this way. Whether the mark is physical, such as a name on a tree, or harder to see, like a memory or feeling, I’ve needed to leave a mark. I want others, and perhaps myself, to know that I was here. Call me crazy, but I can so easily get caught up in the quickness of the world that I feel impermanent. I scramble to do something crazy because I want to be remembered. I want friends to see something odd and think of me. I want people to see my initials and think for a second about who could have left them behind.
In less than a week, I will be moving. Not across the country or something radical like that, just a few miles away. The day after my family leaves, a great amount of effort will be made to give the impression that my family was never living here. The walls will be painted, the carpet replaced and the rest of the place cleaned to near sterility. The people moving in shortly after the place is cleaned will see their new house as a blank slate, rather than one that was enjoyed by somebody else before them. I feel that strange need to make a mark, to tell anybody who looks in a special place that I was here. I spent two hours mowing the lumpy lawn. I lived here. I feel like that’s worth remembering. I know that I am worth remembering. Before I move out and close another chapter of my life, I will probably carve my name into a tree, or bend the fence wires a certain way that can’t be undone easily. I’ll do this because I need to be remembered. I need to feel worth remembering. I believe in leaving a mark, a clue, anything that lets me know that I was here. I believe in leaving a mark.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.