the dash that is my life

By , austin, TX
It was not the first time I had walked through the neutral painted halls that contained soft floral printed furniture sets and old antique tables and dressers lined up against the walls. It was also not the first time that I had introduced myself to Rose, a current resident of this living facility but unfortunately in her mind this was the first recollection of our encounters.
Every Monday for a service project my classmates and I would take a field trip during our third period class to the Cedar Ridge Alzheimer’s Home located just three minutes from our high school. As my classmates proceeded through the plain hallways of Cedar Ridge and cattle herded to the cafeteria, I decided to veer off and take slower steps on our first visit. Looking around the residence I noticed it resembled more of a giant play pin than an actual living facility. Every window was safely secured, every door way was fasted by a combination keypad and the floors seemed to be made of softer flooring to ensure maxim safety. I eventually ended up in a quiet living room located in the corner of the building and at the time only one resident was occupying it. I decided to suck it up, exit my comfort zone and I sat down next to her.
Her name was Rose; she had two kids and too many grandkids to count. She didn’t seem to realize where she was at so I made no questions concerning it. I learned that she enjoyed cooking and movies and she was a previous model. I had found while she was coloring an ages 4 and up coloring book so I asked her only a few questions until she finished. Satisfied with her work, she wanted to hang it up in her room so we got up and began out tour around the lot.
Slowly walking arm in arm the first half of our tour was spent in silence, in which I just observed the different rooms and the different glimpse of vibes from each room. As I strolled past the lunch room all that could be seen was the staff feeding the some of the residents and my classmates conversing with the patients that still had the use of their voices. Further down was the entrance of the courtyard which was occupied by the staff strolling out the patients in their wheelchairs and walkers. The further we walked the more thoughts of my childhood arose; these were scenarios that mimicked my own memories of being an infant. The fears of my future fluttered and clouded my thoughts. I caught myself wondering if I was doomed to relive my memories and ultimately end up where I once began. Thankfully Rose grabbed my hand and pulled me out of my trance; still walking we looped around walked back to where we started.
When I used this analogy in reference to my life it didn’t seem so bad. Walking backwards seemed natural and inevitable. I decided that I wouldn’t focus on my birthday or my death date. I would zone in on that space in between those dates. That space that cannot be signified by a single date but it can only be represented as the dash. The dash that holds the memories and experiences that is my life.





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