Certain places stay with you no matter how many years have passed. One of those places for me is Manito Park.
I’ve had many memories there, from friends’ birthday parties to melancholy family outings to chestnut gatherings.
My most recent visit got me thinking about roots. For most of my life, I’ve felt like a transplant. Uprooted and dropped into a new environment with each new milestone, each new challenge, or heartbreak. A hasty extraction and unceremonious repotting into new realities, again and again.
With each change, my roots grew stronger—they began to accustom themselves to losing security, to kissing the familiar goodbye. Even so, I find that with each new location (metaphorical or literal), I leave something behind in the soil.
Sometimes that thing is grief and pain. Most times it’s the version of myself I became to survive. The me that I built to move forward, but not to inhabit permanently. She is left in the old furrow to seep back into the earth, existing only in memory and the pages of old journals.
There are lots of me’s buried around here. Sometimes it feels like I can hear them whispering, telling me not to forget the lessons I learned.
It’s okay that they existed. The main point is that I don’t want to risk becoming those versions again. Leave them buried—acknowledge, but don’t engage. That strategy can be a hard one; particularly when it would be so simple to fall back into the ground and assume the comfort of what was.
If that was ever an option, the time has long passed. The thought of that does not scare me as much as it once did.
The past is my dictionary, my history – the present is a new document, cursor blinking. The future is a misty trail with unseen foes and unheard-of joys.
In other words;
“I am out with lanterns, looking for myself.”– Emily Dickinson