Journal prompt: Name a totally useless possession and how you came to acquire it.
On my desk at home rests a shard of rust-red rock. It’s not large, perhaps 20 centimeters in length, flatly concave on the side that faces me, with the far side being a larger bulge. It rests flat on my desk as a reminder of carefree times back when I was a sophomore at university.
I was going to University of Oregon at the time, working for the American English Institute as an English tutor. Basically, I had conversations with foreign students to help them with English conversation skills. It was a great way to get exposure to other cultures while still remaining comfortable.
We went to Smith Rock Park in Central Oregon as a day trip a weekend in the summer of 2004. I was ill with ulcerative colitis at the time, so I opted to stay behind with the bus, while my students hiked along the rocky trail. When they returned a few hours later, my students brought me a gift: the shard of orange stone that sits on my desk to this day, nearly a decade later. It is good to remember the carefree days of younger years through the filter of mirky memory. It makes me wonder at what I will remember in years to come.
Journal prompt: Name something you lost or gave away that can never be replaced
When I first read this prompt, I instantly thought of something material, but then I thought about it more and I decided that the thing I lost that changed me forever was my innocence.
I think that at some point in our lives, we lose our innocence. We all do. The sad part is that, most often, people call that “growing up.” It’s not a sudden thing; I didn’t get up some day and realize I had lost my naïveté. I think all the tragedy I experienced throughout my childhood and early adulthood made me see the world differently. While I don’t necessarily think it is a bad thing now, no child—or person for that matter—should have to live through everything I saw as a child. I won’t get into it here, but such a tumultuous upbringing can either make a person stronger and more resilient or take a person so far from being able to repair the damage inflicted by the tragedy forced upon them.
Luckily, I fall into the former category. I was fortunate to get out of the hellish situation in my late teens. A kind woman and her parents took me in as a boy, barely 16, and made me part of their family. It took me several years to mature in several ways, especially socially, since I had moved around a lot as a child and never was able to develop social skills. I didn’t really get a grasp on socializing until I was 23 or so, when I finally settled on graphic design.
It was around this time that I think my innocence really started to drop off from me. Oddly, all the trauma didn’t really taint me permanently, but I don’t think I could fully understand what I went through from an objective standpoint until my frontal cortex was more developed and I could grasp that what I went through wasn’t normal.
My innocence would be nice right now. I want to live a nice, peaceful life with few worries, but I don’t think that’s possible anymore. I have been tainted, forever changed.
I think things. I make up stories in my head, but I haven’t really given myself the opportunity or the place to put them somewhere. Well, now I am—and it’s public. It’s intimidating to put things up in public. Especially writing and such.
Let’s see where this takes us.