A few months ago, I got a tattoo of some elm leaves on my right ankle.
The tattoo artist asked me about the significance. I laughed awkwardly, mumbled something about liking nature and then channeled this name until the last line was done. As it started to heal, I traced the outline with my fingers and felt a weird sense of peace.
People who have known me for years will say that I like to run away from things. Those of you who remember me from back in the good old days of 2016 will know that I frequently ran away from good relationships in my life and had crises when I realised I’d fucked up. To be honest, that still happens. For example, when I felt my life falling to pieces, I shut myself off from everything in the hopes that it’d make me feel better.
Spoiler alert: it didn’t. Shockingly, it never really does.
Some of my friends picked up on the tattoo when it came up in conversation. They knew what it meant, even before I specified which leaves were marked on my skin. There was that intrinsic understanding from people like H, elly, Ocean, Lu, Ilsa – friends who have become such an important part of my life that the name I call myself doesn’t matter. I always get emotional when people say ‘Elm’ without a hitch in their voice because it feels like coming home.
That was the first part of stitching my wayward sense of self back together. When I moved away from home to go to college for a year, I utterly lost my grip on my own identity. Although I had a few anchors to hold me down, it felt as if I was tearing myself apart from the inside out. In that year and in the first year of uni, I went through things that I wouldn’t wish on anyone; I’m only just threading all the events together so that I can heal.
Life’s changed a lot, hasn’t it? The world’s on fire (literally, in some cases), a virus has altered so many things I can’t even count and deconstructing racist institutions seems more possible than it has before. People look for escapes in the strangest of places but me? I’m coming back here. Not because it’s my last resort but because it should have been my first choice all along.
You’ll notice that a lot of my old posts are gone. They aren’t deleted; I just put them back into drafts because it’s likely people I know could stumble across this and I want to keep my previous feelings to the side. Also, I was a little shit a couple of years ago and no one wants to read that. I’ll keep some of the… classics, shall we say.
I can’t promise anything right now. My dad’s in hospital and everything’s flipping upside down constantly. All I can say is that I want to be here and I want to reconnect with the people I love, in the place that I love.
You are all wonderful and I haven’t forgotten your names. One of my closest blogger friends, Sumedha, made me realise just how much I miss being called Elm.
Stay safe and stay happy, always. That’s the most important thing. Even when life hurls you down a flight of stairs, you can crawl back up.
Love from Elm 🙂