By Alba Suarez
This is a love letter, but not to a person. It’s about realizing that your childhood is gone and that the place you grew up in is changing forever.
For quite some time now, both my most profound appreciations and sharpest pains about us have stemmed from how impossible it is to anticipate the swelling tide of our next moment. Right when I think we have both moved on, I stumble upon you running across the street to catch the icy cart or hanging out by the swingset at the Steinway playground and I join you for a few untainted, peaceful moments. Within the span of milliseconds, we can fall right back into the place where we left off.
In many ways, I have resigned myself to the rollercoaster that the oscillating nature of our relationship entails, and I have accepted not having a pristinely defined plan for what may lie in our future. However, that does not come without its momentary heartbreaks, because when I indulge in the memories of our past, I cannot help but feel my heart become entrenched within the depths of our history.
I have a fantasy that even when I leave you behind for what comes next, you will never stop being here, waiting for the day I choose to come back for a visit. Is that selfish of me? Perhaps. But I still hold onto the idea that when I do return, you will invite me on a walk through Astoria, and we’ll stop by the park with the bear and seal and turtle statues where we used to spend summer afternoons writing our names in chalk until our sweaty fingers turned dust into clay. Or maybe we’ll marvel at the giant hole in the pavement in front of our old elementary school that we turned into an impromptu swimming pool after a rainstorm before heading to Natalia’s house for pickle soup.
But in the depths of my mind, I know that these romanticized ideals I have thus been admiring from afar will only ever be viewed through the barrier of a steel door left only slightly ajar—painfully close, yet undoubtedly out of reach. Because the crusty animal statues got torn down three years ago when the park was renovated, and the giant hole got paved over the year after we graduated, and our friends’ parents probably won’t be able to keep paying for their places here when the Trader Joe store opens.
Girls Write Now On the Other Side of Everything: The 2023 Anthology
Do you know what it’s like to communicate with your family across a salty ocean’s divide? Do you want the sun and moon to enter your home with stories written in embers? Do you seek voices that will punctuate the darkness? Welcome to the other side of everything. It’s the other side of silence, the other side of childhood, the other side of hate, the other side of indifference, it’s the other side of sides, where the binary breaks down. It’s a new paradigm, a destination, a different perspective, a mindset, a state of openness, the space between the endless folds in your forehead, hopes for tomorrow, and reflections on the past. This anthology of diverse voices is an everything bagel of literary genres and love songs, secrets whispered in the dark of night, conversations held with ancestors under the sea.
It feels as though I took too long counting to ten in a game of hide and seek and opened my eyes to find that the place where we grew up has disappeared with you in it.
Every time I think I still have a grasp on you, I am falling right into a trap that will only end in heartbreak all over again. And I can’t help but think that maybe you’ve known that our time together would end this way since the day we met.
Maybe, it’s time to move on.
This essay was formed with bits and pieces from a bunch of totally unrelated things I wrote during this year. I ended up realizing that they were all loosely related to the same topic: growing up. In some ways it still feels a little bit unfinished but I feel okay with that—”unfinished business” kind of mirrors the theme of the piece.
Alba Suarez is a junior in high school. Having grown up in a very loud and talkative family, expression and voicing her thoughts has always been incredibly important to her. She loves debating, learning languages and having a random fact at hand to bring up in any situation. Aside from her passions for writing and debate, she loves dancing, listening to music and having impromptu concerts in front of the mirror.