By Amanda C. Thompson
Gordon College News Service
May 4, 2010
Every time I go home from college for the summer, I find myself excavating the closet under the eaves in search of something I’ve lost. This also happens at Christmastime, Easter, Thanksgiving, and on sundry weekends throughout the year. I can’t help it; I’m a loser.
My favorite pants went missing for more than half a year. I haven’t seen my hiking boots since high school. There is a tragic space between Mae and Muse on my CD shelf where Matchbox Twenty should be. Sometimes when I leave my dorm I don’t even know where I parked my car. For the record, I hardly ever lose the keys.
But these things are only misplaced. More regrettable are the things that promise to stay lost: the poem I wrote in fourth grade, the recording of my best friend singing about green tea, the plush bear my birth father gave me when I was born (one of the only mementos I had of him).
Are these important losses? I don’t know. For now, I still have the memories. The poem was less important than how nice it felt to see people smile when they read it. It’s not important that the recording got deleted as long as my friend and I can still scream “green tea!” to each other at random and confuse everybody else at parties. Knowing that my father wanted to be remembered is enough to remind me to remember him.
I think the greater losses are the ones we couldn’t hold to begin with. I lost a best friend once, and not knowing what happened to our friendship was volumes worse than not knowing what happened to the many books and CDs absent from my shelves.
I lost my childhood a few years back, and that was a shame, too. Finally realizing what a blessing I had in spite of stupid bullies at school, I’ve returned to my tree-climbing, Disney-watching days as best I can, but it’s not the same as having no obligations.
With the end of the school year looming, I realize I am about to lose something again. More friends are soon to graduate. In another year, I’ll be the one leaving school behind. Maybe then I will look back on these four years the way I look at childhood now.
But I don’t think we really lose the things we leave behind. I think we carry them forever. They carve themselves into the fleshy pink tissue of our brains and into the caverns of our hearts. We don’t lose them because they are us, and if we do lose them it’s because we meant to, or maybe they didn’t pierce us as sharply as we once thought.
My grandfather is losing his memory to Alzheimer’s. To me this seems the greatest loss of all. Everything I create, writing or otherwise, comes back to the friends who left and the ones who stayed, to the parents who loved me enough to give me up to a better life through adoption, to the songs that served as soundtracks through the high school gauntlet. To the things I carry in the compartments of my mind.
I know how to love because I’ve been hated. I know how to sacrifice because I’ve been shown more than selfishness. These are things I haven’t lost and will never lose, even if I can one day forget where they came from. I can tell that my grandfather still has them, and because of that, I can hope that wherever I may have left my car, there are some things I’ll never lose.