Author's Note: Names have been changed to protect my identity.
I really can't remember the last time I've told someone how I really felt.
My writing has always clarified my deep, twisting emotions for me, but when it comes to people, it's so hard to explain who I am. I can tell someone why I'm sad, but I can't explain the hollow feeling digging inside of me. I can't show them the scars behind my eyes and I can't tell the about my whole life.
Or can I?
Monday morning I decided to go to old English teacher's writing circle. Mr. F had persuaded me ever since he had been my seventh grade English teacher to attend one. He always talked about them in class, how emotional they are and how much they can help you let it out. I attempted to go to one, twice in fact, but my parents always wriggled out of giving me a ride and so I would end up staying home watching Titanic, feeling extremely guilty.
Well, here I am in eighth grade and I finally attended one. Yesterday night, Thursday, I brought my friend, Ivonne, along too who had already attended three writing circles and we were both nervous yet excited at the fact we were both at one together.
Of course, there were about thirty people there, mostly seventh graders and adults, and only seven of us were eighth graders. I was completely shocked by the fact Ryan was there, the guy who had appeared as #2 on my matchmaker's paper at school on the "most compatible person" list. To make it worse, Tristan who happened to be in my Spanish class was also there. I wondered how I was supposed to ever read my writing out loud if they were listening.
Ivonne and I sat on the floor while several more of my friends joined us. Soon, Melissa, Joey, and Kay had all settled on the floor with us on a highly decorative rug while everyone else sat in the desks that formed a huge circle around the LG1 room. We all had our journals and pens scattered around us and talked about our recent state-wide tests we had been forced to take the past week. Ryan and Tristan sat near each other and talked to us too, but we were all soon silenced as the LG door shut and Mr. F took his seat at the front of the circle.
He opened the writing circle with stories of himself about visiting the local detention centers to write with them as well. He shared about boys my age who came only to talk with their parents, women who wrote about their babies that they never got to see, men who only came because that was the only freedom they were allowed. He talked about this not being about grammar, spelling, or even thinking.
I secretly smirked, because I had been doing stuff like this for a long time with my writing classes I took once a month.
He said we should start out with, "I remember." We had about ten minutes, and then we would share.
He told us we might cry, we might laugh, but I was mostly focused on the fact my left foot had fallen asleep and I couldn't wake it up.
As a late mom entered the room, I put my pen to the paper and started writing. I felt my friends scratching along their paper too, and it felt unusually awkward to see my friends writing.
Ivonne, who was all honors in school, never appealed to me as someone who wrote.
Melissa, the know-it-all in music class, I didn't know she could read anything else but music.
Joey, Mr. Einstein of eighth grade, he was laughing as his pencil made illegible words.
I even looked at Kay, Tristan, and Ryan. It overwhelmed me so I shook it off and wrote in black ink, "I remember."
It took a few beautiful minutes to finish the piece that I was writing. Each sentence started with "I remember . . ." but they all brought out memories I hadn't spoken about with anyone in over a year and a half. This wasn't fiction or creative writing, this was hard-core reality I was writing about and it struck me.
I could feel my shoulders shaking as Mr. F said time was up.
Ivonne had tears brimming in her eyes, Joey was laughing at something funny he had written, Tristan and Ryan looked solemn, Kay and Melissa were staring at their papers with sadness burning in their eyes.
I just stared at mine through tears.
It didn't take long for Mr. F to call on me to read mine. I almost didn't, but the words escaped.
I choked on it.
My voice quivered and my whole body began to shake as I read further. "I remember the pile of tissues by my bed."
"I remember watching Dallas disappear behind my car.
"I remember how no one heard me.
The words ate me, in a way I cannot describe. I could feel everyone's eyes staring. I stopped for a moment to wipe my eyes, but I continued. It felt so different to be telling everyone this, I could see Ryan and Tristan shift to face me through my blurry vision.
Melissa and Kay grew quite still, Joey was all ears, and Ivonne looked at me as though this was the first time she was hearing me speak.
"I remember hearing my voice, and how it shocked me for the first time. It was chok-" I sniffed and stifled a sob. "It was choking, nothing like I'd ever heard before."
I took a steady breath as my shaking increased while I finished. "No more tears."
The room was deathly silent when I stopped reading. I looked up and could see some were crying, some were dead quiet, and Mr. F was giving me a small smile.
After that, I think I learned something amazing. I've been appearing to people as this happy girl who feels nothing but joy and hope all the time. I proved to myself through that crappy piece of writing that I'm much more and that I don't have to hide all the time. I've told myself lies and I've told myself being sad is not worth it, but I figured it was just better to let it out and not care.
I left that night with Mr. F's words ringing through my ears.
"Tell the truth in a world full of lies."
Once again, my life has changed through writing . . . in a circle of friends that thought they knew me.
Author's Note: The words from "I Remember" were a few sentences selected from my piece I wrote that night so I would appreciate it if you would not steal or attempt to plagiarize some of the phrases I wrote. Thank you.