The photographs on my wall are beginning to curl at the edges. Some have fallen off the wall completely, leaving only the empty spaces that used to house memories. The pictures that remain are hopelessly outdated. Visitors can glance at my trip to El Salvador (which happened when everyone was panicking about Y2K) or examine the gown I wore for my highschool graduation.
Now people are wringing their hands about 2012 and I am about to pose for yet another set of awkward graduation photos.
I have a poster that features dolphins jumping past a tangerine sky–the picture is redundantly captioned “dolphin journey” in large, white capital letters. Years ago, I collected figurines of the popular marine mammal. “They’re friendly and smart, like me!” I used to chirp.
I am still friendly, but not as unconditionally, and I doubt my intelligence on a regular basis.
I have several hooks in my wall that hold necklaces I have not worn in ages. There is a “to-do” bristol board on the wall, divided into four sections: Now, Soon, Later, Whenever. There are no sticky notes in any of the quadrants.
I’m beginning to go insane in here.
The thing is, I can’t quite bring myself to tear it all down. If I do, I have to admit that I’m becoming a different person. If I do, I have to decide what to do with the old notebooks and scrapbooks and letters. Maybe I’m afraid that I’ll become the grown-up Peter Pan.
Maybe I fear replacing pieces of myself.
In a bizarre act of foreshadowing, I once drew a picture of myself in one of my personal poetry books. (Side note: I don’t write poetry anymore.) In it, I am drinking a martini and laughing at my adolescent angst. There’s even a speech bubble: “I was so silly dah-ling.” I’m wearing a blue boat-neck sweater and gray pants. My hair is short and black, as it is now.
I was silly — every page of that same book was dedicated to the love or loss of one particular high school flame, my on-again-off-again Romeo.
I look at the curled pictures of myself and remember my highlights and bright green eyeshadow. I remember when the entire universe revolved around a musical boy who could strike the right chords and make you cry. I was innocent then, thinking I could really be anything I wanted to be and that love could be gorgeous and eternal.
One talent I’ve lost: the ability to sit down and write about myself with all the certainty in the world. I knew myself (or believed I did) in those days.
And now I don’t quite know what to put up on my walls.