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A Pocket Archive (18)


The house feels so quiet tonight, despite the gurgling roar of the AC and intermittent thunderclaps outside. There's a half-eaten bag of red, white, and blue M&M's on the table in the kitchen next to my Nintendo switch controllers and an empty wine bottle. I still need to take it out to the recycling bin but I don't have the heart to do it just yet. By leaving it there, it feels like a trace of my friend is still lingering in the apartment.

I missed her. We've been close all the way through college, and still talk frequently and keep up with each other's lives, but we hadn't had an in-person visit for almost 4 years. It was so nice to see her again. While she was here, everything felt so normal, like everything in my life was put back together again and we were home in Laradise, relaxing with bubbly drinks and binging Netflix like nothing ever happened. No panic attacks, no flashbacks, no anxiety, no fear, just a normal night chilling with my best friend. It was so ordinary and comfortable, which felt almost surreal after everything. It was wonderful. At the same time it scared me and felt unsettling, because the lack of that suffocating heaviness, fear, or panic made me realize how severely those things impact my day to day life. Having a few days without that horrible weight hanging over me made me feel more hopeful and whole than I have in a long time. I felt safe, and more importantly, I felt truly happy and at peace. Normal. I want normalcy so badly. 

Like Robin said, surviving that kind of abuse changes everything: your faith, your perception of the world, yourself, and how you see everything around you. Even though I rarely go a week without nightmares and I still get sick at work, I have a wonderful support system and I'm doing better because of it. I don't know what healing looks like, but it gives me hope. It's good to know that the world can turn upside-down and shatter, but some things still don't change. My friendship with the gypsy is one of those things, and something that could never be restricted by time or geography. Having people like her around me just makes me feel braver. In that regard, I am very lucky.

There is a large part of me that misses my days in undergrad and I desperately wish I could do all those years over again, without ever meeting the monster who is blotted all over my memories like a spilled bottle of ink, but at the same time there are lots of happy memories that I wouldn't trade for anything. Some of my best ones were formed with the gypsy.

I still grin when I remember several semesters of almost wheeze laughing mid-lecture while reading the notes she typed (often in all caps) and we'd leaving our studio classes with chalk and charcoal dust all over out hands, clothes and faces, and anything else that we touched without thinking. The charcoal would also turn our snot blue from breathing it in, and everyone knew not to wear clothes they cares about to studio sessions. It always looked like bruises, and we joked about art hickeys a lot. Those classes could be brutal, and yet, whenever we were together, my soul felt full. There was definitely some light-hearted trauma bonding between us from our art classes, but I know we would have been fast friends regardless.

Trauma sucks, and I still wish my memories weren't poisoned in retrospect, but at least the more valuable things like friendships, family, and my education can never be taken from me. It doesn't make any of it good, of course, but I'm glad to know that there are good things that can still persist through suffering, and they become all the more beautiful in contrast to it. I don't know how long I'll wait before cleaning away the traces my friend's visit, but for now, it's comforting. In some ways, perhaps it's better that the past can't be altered. The present would be so much worse without people like her in it.


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