She is Me | Who I Used to Be

There was a girl once that was afraid of saying “I love you” but after a while, she got over her fear and revelled in the blooming exultation of wanting to say it. That girl said it to someone, happy, smiling because it was correct and there was no fear attached, no turning back from the gaping yet welcoming truth. The idea of a feeling crashed inside her chest as waves on sand, shaking with the enormity of it; she carried it in her heart, a glorious gift of secret longing. Solid and golden, it was just beyond the hand of someone else, flittering; they kept it, shared, forever. Until it wasn’t.

There was a girl who loved writing. Words poured out of her, like expelling a breath; they tangled together in waves and shadows and created pictures she couldn’t see. She tasted the air and it echoed with words: there were letters in her smile and the solace she got was from creating a story. With eyes shining with new life, she took the whole world in as if it was hers to rebuild – as if she could change the world with a grin. She was poetic and altogether too whimsical, sharply realistic yet also prone to fantastical dreams in her spare time.

This girl devoured music, floating along with pianos and guitars yet grounded with her voice. Singing, not bird-like but nature-like, connected her to reality in the same way that writing let her explore it. She would spent time smiling over songs, heart swelling as the individual notes gave her some identity. Now, that view is glorified – perhaps she just listened – but to me, she was beautiful in it.

Despite her protests, she adored learning – it lit a spark in her as she ranted over books, characters growing and being shaped inside her head. It was as if she herself was a book, filled with little nuances that only came to light after she didn’t know herself much any more. They were good traits, solid, dependable – she was motivated, a steady pulse of resolve thrumming round her body.

Loyal, strange, sometimes wild, heart fluttering at the touch of a hand and when she kissed someone for the first time, her heart would warm whenever she thought of it. There was a little basket of memories she kept inside there, of people who loved her and called her beautiful – of the people she believed when they told her, even if she said she didn’t. Looking at her now, you wouldn’t think it; she doesn’t think it. Was that how she really was? Is she pretending she was more? When I think of her, though, I think of someone who, though still within me, was far more open and happily honest.

As her heart broke, that girl became more herself; she had morals and a complex, wonderful mind that loved her friends more than her own happiness. She was not happy, yet she was slightly content; she had a wealth of emotion among her shattered love that rose to the surface with an easy push. She was respectful, heart clanging painfully yet flowering with blossoms of hope and closure and expressed mourning. She was a whirlpool, except the foam rose high into the air, still holding hands and wishing fervently, a string-tether to her heart, for any kind of happiness.

I say this because this girl didn’t realise what was right in front of her until it had moved on. In living life, she didn’t know how much she cherished it until she wasn’t she any more, until she was replaced by someone who is more of a blank. The vibrant colours and personal identity, once so flourishing and silver, became bronze and duller as she grew smaller. She’s still there, in a little cavity called Hope, in a little drawer called Please Remember Me.

That girl is buried somewhere. I’d really, really like it if she came to the surface one day. Maybe she will; maybe I’ll remember that she is me. “Please Remember Me,” she whispers, after all. I just have to wait.

From Elm 🙂

The Story of a Life

I don’t know what to title this. I don’t know if I can give a title to all my conflicting emotions. Whatever this ends up saying, it’ll be simple words for a complicated story – not my story – that I feel like I need to tell. I don’t know who else is going to tell it but I want to, anyway.

I don’t want to ask you to do something but if you could, would you read to the end of this? This is the story of a woman I barely knew; this is the story of someone who appeared to have such little hope left but this is a story that, for all its unhappiness, needs to be told.

My grandmother on my father’s side came to England in her early twenties, shortly after she married my grandfather. It was the 60s and she, coming from Sweden, knew a bit of English and learned it from the television. She’s deaf, with her hearing having got worse throughout her lifetime. But this is not her story. This is the story of someone she knew.

My grandma went to work in translation. It was her first job in England and there, she met a woman called Inga-Britta. Her boss, Inga-Britta was also Swedish and at some point in her life, whether before or long after she met Grandma, she became deaf as well. They were friends and as first friends often do, they stayed in contact. They had known each other for over 50 years.

I won’t say much about Inga-Britta’s life. I don’t feel like it would be respectful to her or the people she knew to reveal the details, like it’s some kind of thing to be whispered about. It was not a happy life by any means but it was a life, the little I know of it. She had a son who passed away; she had friends; she had my Grandmother and a woman called Beryl, her next-door neighbour called Joan. I won’t pretend to know her likes, dislikes or anything like that. All of what I know has been pieced together over the last few years.

Long ago, perhaps 10-15 years ago, she moved into a care home. She had dementia but she could remember Swedish, a little English; she knew my Grandmother but not my dad. For years, she’d been ill, in and out of hospital but it was what it was and she carried on. She’d forget key details about her life but she always remembered my Grandma and I suppose it was because it was an old memory.

I grew up hearing her name, from my Grandma going to visit her and then, later, my father and I going to see her. My dad used to go to bookshops and ask for large print books (her sight deteriorated) and whenever they had them, he’d take them to her. It was memories like that that made her stick in my mind: she was my dad’s “Auntie Inga-Britta” and that was how it was.

One day, we went to see her and brought books, a lamp which my dad helped put up on the wall and some biscuits. I held her hand, smiled at her and listened to her talking. Although she forgot who we were halfway through, it was okay because it was Inga-Britta and she was there. My grandmother had explained to me that would be how it would be. That’s the last memory I have of Inga-Britta; it’s one of my only memories aside from remembering Grandma and her speaking Swedish.

Yesterday evening, she died. It wasn’t unexpected; she had been ill for months, getting worse. I only found this out after I heard but my grandma had gone to see her, holding her hand and talking in Swedish even though she couldn’t hear. Grandma told me that herself, that it was sad but that it was the best thing under her circumstances. It would have been more cruel for her to keep living and she’s now at peace, whatever peace is. She died peacefully, in her sleep I think and whether it was a nurse or a staff member, she always had people holding her hand.

I cried, partly out of shock. Inga-Britta was someone who I thought, perhaps naively, wouldn’t pass away for years to come. She was always there and awfully, when she wasn’t, it made me realise the sheer mortality of myself. I cried for that and Cried for her and I suppose, Cried for the people who’d never be cried over. Even though she wasn’t one of them. Even though I had little right, not knowing her or them or the stories of anyone.

I am sad. I’ve been unable to concentrate, from a mix of strange grief and contemplative silences. I almost feel like I’ve got no right to mourn her when I only knew her as Inga-Britta, my grandma’s friend.

The tragedy for me was not in her passing but rather in the life she had before it. It was okay, true, but it wasn’t something happy or joyous. It was sad and it was a life in a sea of lives but to me, it means something. To people, it may be just an old woman who had dementia, who passed away peacefully but to me? She was Inga-Britta, just that, and she was a friend of my Grandmother’s.

I want you to understand something. Everyone has a right to grieve; everyone has a right to be sad over a life of which they’ve maybe, only, seen a corner. I may not know anything about Inga-Britta really and perhaps I’m making awful assumptions, telling a story that isn’t real but to me, it was and is real.

This was not a story of someone who fought. This was not a story of someone who gave up and was weak. This is a story of someone who just was. There will always be stories like that and that’s okay.

I’m sorry if this has affected you in a negative way. I’m always here to talk and listen if you’re grieving.

There are some stories – some lives – I’ll never forget. Hers is one of them. I hope, in some way, you’ll remember her too if only in snatches of thought.

From Elm

Little Elm was the Worst Child Ever

I am so incredibly glad that none of you who read this blog – save for one person – knew me when I was little. If you did… You’d be shocked at the change.

Last night, I stayed over at my friend Poppy’s house – it wasn’t planned, because I was at the party of a family friend who I really dislike which was hosted at Poppy’s and I fell asleep. This morning, whilst feeling absolutely gross because I had no change of clothes and no toothbrush, Poppy started talking about how I was when I was a kid.

Oh, God. Because Poppy’s known me for all of her life (she’s one year younger than me), she remembers some pretty horrendous stuff. Put it this way, I wouldn’t be associated with my younger self if I could help it.

Sadly, I can’t, so what I try and do is point out how truly fucked up I was, JUST to make it clear to you that I have changed, I am a completely different person… Or I bloody hope I am.

Even though I WILL regret doing this, I’m going to share with you a list of shit that I did, or how I acted, when I was… Below the age of 10. After that, I got more bearable, though I only started acting in the way I act now a year and a half ago. As in, being kind to people, trying not to argue, helping people etc.

Oh dear what am I doing? This is HORRIFIC!

1. When I was in year 3, so when I was 7, my friend Ivy offended me somehow. I was a violent child back then, so I shoved her, but I couldn’t see the stinging nettles that she then fell into. I’m SO sorry about that!

2. There’s a video of 8-year-old me singing Miracles, up on youtube, in Poppy and Rose’s bathroom. I sounded like a fly and it was the worst thing I’ve ever heard.

3. Up to when I was 5, when I got pissed off, I dived into the doorway between the kitchen and living room (there isn’t an actual door there). I then proceeded to kick my legs and shriek, and when people ignored me, I cried insanely. I mean I was 5 when that stopped – even if my sister says it was later, but that’s bullshit.

4. All throughout my childhood, I used to go to Poppy and Rose’s, pretty much every weekend. I slept over, and woke up at 6 o’clock in the bloody morning. Most often, I woke Poppy up in the process, and we played this game where we created an imaginary world. I was hyperactive and completely weird, so I acted as the characters in that world OH GOD THIS IS MORTIFYING. Turns out that Poppy was just pretending to be playing, and she was actually trying to sleep because 6-year-old Elm WOULD NOT leave her alone. I even pissed off their mother on several occasions by going downstairs, or talking too loudly. Aaaahhh!!

5. This is the worst one by far. Quick family history: my mum comes from a country in Asia, and our extremely distant relatives were part of a tribe (I don’t know how to spell the name). So… I must have been 8 at this point, or 9, and I decided to try and act as if I was part of it because I thought it was cool or it made me interesting?! Now I think on it, it was kind of racist… WOW. I spoke in this screwed up language that I made up, and tried to… CURSE Poppy and Rose’s brother, or even those two when I got pissed off with them. I sat on the stairs and mumbled in this strange language and when Poppy brought it up this morning, I started yelling “OHMYGOD stop we do not talk about that ever!” because I’m sorry, but what kind of kid pretends that they are part of a tribe which they know nothing about?

6. When I was 6, so when I was in year 2, this girl who I didn’t really like fell over. At that time, I was kind of neutral towards her because she didn’t treat me like I was stupid yet, but when she fell over I laughed. I LAUGHED. Yes, I think it was because I didn’t know what else to do, but still! I feel so bad now.

7. Until I was 9, I had no real technology: no computer, no phone, no Nintendo or whatever, so I used to listen to CDs. I sat in my little chair in the kitchen (which we still have) and listened to stories, which is most likely why I went into secondary school with a horrifyingly pretentious vocabulary. The embarrassing part is that I used to sometimes listen to it when my FRIENDS were round, which is so antisocial and I feel very bad for them now.

8. I had a friend in primary school called Harrison. We always used to hold hands, because that’s how people guided me when I was 8. We were walking down to Church (because our school was a Church of England school, says the Atheist) and one of the teaching assistants says, “Elm, should you really be holding Harrison’s hand? People might think you were boyfriend and girlfriend!” I screamed so loudly that people probably stared at me, dropped his hand and TRIED to run away. And failed.

9. In year 6, I took it upon myself to think that I fancied all the boys. I had a crush every week, except it wasn’t because I was 10. One day, our teachers sat us down in a circle and said they needed to talk about something. That something was “fancying”, and how we were a bit too young to be thinking about that. Narcissistically, I thought they were talking about me so I got terrified. Obviously they weren’t, but still; I was under the impression that I had crushes on all of these guys. Awww!

I think I’ve gone so red that I look like a traffic light. I actually can’t believe I did all that stuff.

I think I’m going to sob in a corner. There are more stories, but I can’t think of them off the top of my head.

Do you have any really weird things you did as a child? Please tell me I’m not alone!

From Elm 🙂

Don’t Fade Out

I’m walking down the street. Don’t forget how my body moves, the way my hair blows in the wind and how the light shines over the curve of my jaw. Don’t forget, when I stumble, that I laugh or try to right myself, which usually ends with me shrieking in mortified embarrassment.

They say my laugh bursts out of me, in a cacophany I’m told is ‘cute’. Remember how my voice changes, when the sun sinks below the horizon; think of the soft words I spoke and the heavy truths within them. My laughter echoes in empty hallways, standing beside you by a river, and gripping another’s hand in the dark of a place I thought I would hate. Little words, tiny words, yet still meaningful.

My hair streamed out behind me in the wind, soft as a feather. Remember how that can never define me, for delicacy is something I will never possess – with a once harsh tone, and eyes full of stabbed backs, I was never a pretty flower. I turned to you, sharing a moment of horror, laughing as the notes reached a crescendo in a once war-torn country. Look into my mind, and remember how beautiful that felt; free as a bird and happy as a lark.

The way I pressed the coins into your hand, the last time I would ever stand in front of you as anything more than an acquaintance. Breathing, in the dark, with a shared secret that never passed my lips, nor my hands, nor my heart. The very essence that defined our net of trust, gold then green in its intensity. Before it broke, remember how I was there, present, constant, as the earth.

Fingertips on piano keys. Head held high while the tears fell. Eyes reflected in the fire that we could barely see. An unexpected thank you, shared in the silence of something already broken. Lips upon tentitive lips, once, twice, thrice; guilt fading as the tide washes out.

In a patchwork of memories, you – the you of past and present, the multiple people that have shaped me – fly past. Don’t forget my happiness, stepping out of a changing room and feeling like a queen, with a dress flowing like the ocean. Don’t forget my quiet certainty, a split second before an action that set me on the path of loving who I could.

Small face, little hands, and a smile only when there is no click of a camera. Trying to be in the foreground of a place where you were yourself, free, able to stand up and scream if you wanted to.

I can’t capture me in a post, in a paragraph or sentence or word. I’m more than that, more than a song sung to discordant melodies. Time flows, but as long as there’s breath in the air, it can’t forget me. I can’t forget me.

Though you’re only one among billions, you make memories that will last a lifetime. The simple gestures, laughs and tears live on, in people to come and in the minds of people that will always – ALWAYS – remember who we are, until they’re gone too. It’s a chain of which we’ll never see the end, but it’s okay to realise that we’re just a metallic link.

Know who I am, as much as I do. Don’t let me disappear, in the midst of my turmoil and confusion. Don’t let me be selfish or hurt or angry, and keep these collages of people safe.

Don’t let it fade. Impressions of memories cannot be easily taken away.

From Elm 🙂

Guest Post – Recollection Road

Hey Elmitron followers! I’m Aditi, another female teen blogger, though living in the United States. I hope you enjoy this post!

<<>><<>><>>

I am currently going through a plethora of thoughts. I know what I want to say, but I don’t know how to describe it, or where to even begin. I slept late last night and I’m in bed early now. Ideally, I should sleep at this very moment to make up for the time I missed, but I know that I’ll just be more tired in the morning because my body isn’t used to sleeping so early. I’m curious to the science behind that, actually. Anyway, I have so many things to say, that I don’t know what to say. It’s quite a strange paradox.

Memory Lane. Recollection Road. What does that mean to you? I don’t like not thinking about the future. I don’t like scrolling though old photos. I don’t like reliving my past. I enjoy looking at joyful photographs or ones that bring back memories, but that just gives me nostalgia, and forces me to compare my life now with my life from before, which isn’t always a good thing. Looking back on sad memories just makes me feel more sad on what a(n)  _____ (insert negative adjective here ex: idiotic, naive, silly) person I was back then.

The worst is when I dwell on a particularly happy, sad, or embarrassing memory. It’s similar to when you get a song stuck in your head. You can’t get it out no matter how hard you try, unless another song slips in instead. You’re forever mad at or pleased with the person you made the catchy lyrics sneak behind the strong barriers in your brain.

But what is it about memory lane that has us taking a trip back there every so often? Is it the escape from our lives now? Is it the appeal of what was in the past? Perhaps, peering into our past propels us to prosperity for the future. (That alliteration was nice…) The past most definitely shapes the future, but it could also encourage the future. Basically, when you think of your past (no matter good or bad), you feel motivated to be more successful in the future.

Whenever I think about some happy or successful events that have occurred to me in the past, it either means that I am feeling something just as joyful or prosperous OR I am feeling downright horrible. And then, there are those times when you randomly get déjà vu about a past occurrence which brings back another slew of emotions–good or bad.

I am not sure what I think about Recollection Road, but it’s a street that everyone crosses. A lot. Whether they like it or not. There’s a mental “Memory Lane” and a physical memory lane, at least for me. Sometimes there’s just one street/house that every time I cross/go into, I’m remembered of my past or I meet several people in my past. It’s sort of complicated, but it’s definitely an important encounter.

Funnily enough, this was just supposed to be a short, few-sentence paragraph, but all of my writing almost always exponentially explodes from the original target. That is usually a good thing, but not for word-limited essays. I am pretty sure that those are the biggest enemies of writers. Who wants limitations when you bleed prose from your fingertips?

<<><<>><<>>

Thanks for reading this post! I’d really, really love it if you could check out my blog here. 🙂

Love,
Aditi