I often find myself lost in life.
I can still find my way to my house, my son’s school, the grocery store. But this type of lost is not a physical space. It’s a deep lost.
I like to think of it as a lost and found.
When I can go deep inside myself and ask the question, “Who am I?” A million different voices pop up to answer.
Many of them logical and mundane. I am a woman. I am a mother.
I am my work or my schedule or many of the day to day things we do without exploration.
When I ask who I am, I mean in my core, in the scenic views that surround me. I wonder, who are we all? What truly lies beneath the skin and how are we connected or disconnected to the idea of defining ourselves by what others reflect back?
Who is the person we tell ourselves we are and who is the person that lives quietly inside, the one only you truly know?
The one who has taken refuge in vulnerability, the one who longs to shout out and the one who wants to quietly whisper, “This is me. This is who I’m trying to tell you about, this is the person who sees the same type of beauty within you.”
Underneath the surface can you answer the question, “Who am I?”
I am from stardust and universal elements.
I am from abyssal eyes.
Black hole in the Milky Way.
I am from wingspans and currents of air
that hold me.
I am from sedimentary choices,
thirty-seven years of decisions
that bring me right here—
I am from the one picture of her,
how I stare and recognize the emotion in her eyes,
where you can see pain and sorrow and beauty,
all scrambled and laid to rest on pearl white skin.
A hardened jawline, muscles and teeth clenched tight.
The way she looks so alone and misunderstood.
And how I wish I had the chance to talk with her,
to meet her.
Living in black and white.
I am from the echoes of lost souls,
from messages they can’t relay.
From the lungs, long turned to ash, that still breathe her story
A place where I can heal the wrongdoings,
where I could be her strength,
her hand held in mine.
I am from her secrets she told only to me.
I am their keeper.
I am from the white bedcovers sewn with decorative flowers,
running my fingers over the shapes.
I am from toes in the grass
and the misty shores of Ireland.
From Gaelic tongue;
words that feel like fire and romance.
I am from rollerskates
and bicycles with banana seats and daises on the basket.
From ponytails and braids.
I am from summers spent in Cape Cod.
From raucous thunderstorms,
from Poseidon’s waves violently crashing,
washing the deep sea against the shore.
I am from jumping over puddles of jellyfish
and holding horseshoe crabs,
fingers caressing hard exoskeletons
as they scurry through the sand.
I am from searching for shells and sea glass,
from the end of the stick I used to poke a dead manta ray,
how I wanted to touch it with my fingertips,
push it back to the ocean.
Let the water carry it home
I am from gills turned to lungs,
from fins turned to hands.
Learning to walk on four legs,
learning to breathe oxygen,
to touch land for the very first time.
I am from evolution;
not some magic, encased garden.
I am born of no rib.
A garden where women were evil,
where we were temptation,
and our freshly born bodies were to be hidden in shame.
Where apples and snakes held our fate.
I am that first bite of the apple,
the sweet quench of rebellion,
of free will and thought.
Where does your story live? What are the words and dreams and places that cling to you, that won’t let you go in the sweetest sense?
The beautiful or difficult events that have shaped you?
Acceptance and exploration are in the naming, the knowing of self.
Author: Courtney Quinlan
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: via the author