Just Hearing Me Out

Elizabeth - Cincinnati, Ohio
Entered on October 30, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I stand with my hands on my hips, looking through the doorway of my ransacked bedroom for any sign of survivors beneath the rubble of discarded books, shoes, magazines, and furniture. My walls are stripped of the pictures and sketches that once hung so proudly there, clothing is strewn about, desk drawers hang half-open, and the lamp shade lies tilted. I force myself to accept that I am now a refugee.

I begin to turn around and head off to my new life at college, when suddenly, like remembering your cat in the room next to you when you’re about to rush out of the burning building, I recall some old treasures I ashamedly almost left behind. I dig through the rubble to find the key to the top right corner of my dresser drawer, turn it, and see my old friends waiting there, expectantly, knowing I could NEVER forget them, that I would always come back. I remove them one by one: the green one subject spiral notebook with “PRIVATE” labeled boldly across the cover in gellypen, the compact silver diary with a gold-clasped lock on the side, a mini notepad overflowing with black ink, an expensive leather-bound journal from an aunt rarely seen, and the dozen or so other journals containing all the memories, feelings, crushes, and embarrassing happenings of my past.

I flip through an early one and learn through the large, sloppy handwriting that on November 19, 1998 I scribbled, “Theyre’s this girl Allison who really gets on my nerves.” Another notebook contains a story I wrote in second grade entitled “The Powerful Flight,” about a young witch who flees the scrutiny and hardships of her unaccepting home life on her broom stick. In a later journal, I flip to a page where I write ecstatically about a snow day. I come across Christmas lists, angry, unsent letters to my mom, tear-blotted pages about “having no one to talk to” and being “misunderstood,” and detailed accounts of my neighbors’ actions from my “Harriet, the Spy” phase.

I’ve always considered myself to be somewhat of a wall flower- thinking and feeling so much, but not having the courage to just come right out and say it. So instead, I write. Writing has always been my method of releasing pent-up emotions, of telling elaborate stories, of letting it all out- which is why I believe that there is no more accepting audience than an 8 ½ by 11 piece of paper. An 8 ½ by 11 piece of paper got me through countless arguments with mom, the ending of a friendship, and all the drama that seemed so life-altering at the time, but looking back, only seems embarrassingly juvenile. An 8 ½ by 11 piece of paper also listened to me gush about the arrival of a new baby brother, heard my horribly predictable tales of fiction, and listened patiently to any “emo” poetry I happened to throw in there. But best of all, an 8 ½ by 11 piece of paper would never reject what I was saying, would never judge me, and would never betray my trust. It simply- listened.

Although I began to transition to writing less in diaries and more in columns for my school newspaper, my crush on Mark Dickert in the fourth grade was just as important as my thoughts on female educational dominance in my high school. The fact is: each word, each character, and each unsent letter is a part of me, and I could never leave them behind. So, I packed each one into a box and placed them with rest of my belongings into the mini van and headed to my new home. And now, the green spiral notebook with “PRIVATE” scrawled across the cover and the expensive leather-bound journal from an aunt rarely seen, both lie beneath my bed in my dorm room, along with my twenty-some other nearly-forgotten friends. Paper has the ability to declare our independence from England, to record data that leads to the discovery of nuclear fission, and to carry a heartfelt love message to a soldier overseas. But sometimes most importantly, paper simply listens.