Discovering Eden This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

October 10, 2009
There are twenty-six letters in the alphabet, more than four-hundred-and-fifty thousand words in a standard English dictionary, and seemingly endless ways to turn them all into something meaningful. Words are one of the few things everybody seems to understand and use without ever touching, smelling, or tasting . It seems that most people are content with seeing words and accepting them as one-dimensional and static. I am not. I’ve come to believe that there is something like the Garden of Eden in everyone’s mind, and that is where words really live. I’m not referring to the occasional “A” found under a rock or the “Z” hanging lazily from a branch, I’m talking about the words that dangle from a forbidden tree. It has become my goal to open up that garden gate, and follow the vine-covered path until I reach that tree. I want to touch my red, round soul and sink my teeth into it, letting the juice run down my chin and making my fingers sticky. I want to find words for myself, ones that I’m so sure of that I am never afraid of a blank page again.

I found the gate to my garden sometime back in middle school. Let me begin by saying, I hardly even remember what it felt like to be the person I was those short five years ago. But I do remember that I was nervous all the time, scared of almost everything, and dreaded going to school every day. The one thing that got me through each day was English class. It wasn’t that English class was terribly interesting, but it was something that I understood and it was safe. I didn’t always get the best grade on a mundane vocabulary test, but I lived for those few creative writing assignments. I don’t remember the first poem I ever wrote or the grade I got on it, but I remember what it felt like the first time I saw my thoughts on paper. It was real and I felt like I could touch it, like I could finally see a part of myself that nobody else could. The gate was locked but I could reach through the bars and run my hands over the trees, slowly peeling words from their trunks and slipping them quietly into my pocket.

From that point on I have loved words. I would like to think that I have changed and that is why my words have changed, but I know the truth is that words changed me. I eventually climbed over the gate and wandered through the garden, finding some things I never wanted to and others that amazed me. Words have allowed me to search for myself in ways I didn’t know were possible. In five years I have written over two hundred poems and countless scribbles that define who I am. In that time I have also abandoned my fears and grown to become easy-going and somewhat peaceful with myself. I cannot use three adjectives to describe myself, but anyone who wants to know who I am wouldn’t have to walk further than my bedroom doorway. There are poems hanging from my walls, strewn across my floor, and piled in every corner and empty space. I probably come across as a pack-rat or slob, but I know that those papers are anything but junk. A lot of people would say that I’m “good” at English or “smart” when it comes to words, but I think everyone is brilliant in the same way. I firmly believe that there is something worth writing down in every last person, and the chances I get to see what is truly inside a person are chances I savor.

It may seem like I have myself pretty well figured out, that I know my way around the garden and can call every fruit and animal by a name. But the truth is that I am still trying to figure it all out. I think I know myself better than most people my age, but I also think that I have a lot to learn. I am content to wander, to write when something catches my attention or I just want to listen to myself. I like to think that when I write something that I truly feel it rains in the garden. I like to stand under that forbidden tree and turn my head up to my soul, letting the rain drip off it’s shiny surface and land gently on my tongue.

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LexiLou This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 1, 2009 at 5:39 pm
This is beautiful. It's so heartfelt and the imagery is really nice!
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