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The Unspoken Words This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

Words. Someone once told me that the most important words were the unspoken ones. I countered with a much older and wiser-sounding quote. That ­moment hadn't meant a whole lot at the time.

At that age, my main goal was to feel superior to everyone around me, no matter how snide it made me ­appear. I was good at it too. Cunning, I was. It was a snapshot of my life that expressed how versatile one's personality could be. But my intentions were fake and my thoughts were fake and my words were fake.






Nowhere. I am nowhere. There is no one near me; there is nothing near me. The stretch of white ahead is untouched. My route is a road that leads from nowhere to nothing.






A child of privilege, my whole life had already been bought for me. I was enrolled in Connecticut's most elite boy's prep school and my Harvard ­acceptance letter was already lying with a pile of mail. I was a re-creation of my father in every way, whether I realized it or not. Don't get me wrong, at the time, grateful was the definition of what I felt about my life. But the question that always threw me off was whether I was worthy of it. Conniving as I was on the outside, there was a long chain of epiphanies inside me.






Cold. I remember reading the book A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin when I was fifteen. It was one of the more captivating stories I had read, worthy of memory. But the only thing I could remember right now was one sentence: “Nothing burns like the cold.” At this moment, I can completely understand Martin's thought.






I started memorizing quotes when I was fourteen. They helped me keep up my outer fake persona, while allowing me to ponder the authors' meanings on the inside. I began to value quirky thoughts, or the snarky attitude, or the apparent wisdom in each quote. You can't come to imagine how much I yearned to be that quirky, snarky, or wise. In some ways it forced the idea of maybe, just maybe, becoming my own person. Someone with their own intentions, their thoughts, and their own words. But it mostly just forced me to memorize more quotes.






Slow. My mind is slow. My body is slow. I count how long it takes to blink my cloudy eyes. One … Two … Three… I count how long it takes for the chilled air to fill my lungs and drift back out into the world. One … Two … Three … Then I count how long it takes to count. I wonder how long it took for me to be this slow.






I remember the year that my “life” turned into reality. I remember the day that my “life” turned into reality. I remember the second that my “life” turned into reality. My father handed me five hundred-dollar bills. They were crumpled on each edge from sitting in his wallet. He pointed to our front door with such force that even his finger began to tremble with fright. It was the door that only guests walk in and out of. August 6, 1999 was the day that I became a guest in my own house.






Peaceful. Virginia Woolf once said, “You cannot find peace by avoiding life.” Now, I don't think I've avoided life, so why can't I find peace? Why can't the world around me find peace? America must be at war with at least ten countries. Not that I would know. Hitchhiking to Alaska doesn't give you many opportunities to catch up on world affairs.






The idea came to me while pouring coffee. Out of all the things I could have been doing, working at a Starbucks in Pennsylvania was what conjured up the thought of traveling north. I was 20 years old, twelve months after my parents had disowned me. I remember how intently the women I was serving stared at me as I made her coffee. It was as if every second I took could have meant her life or death. She wore a business suit like my mom used to pair with pearls. The coffee almost spilled over both of us as she snatched it. Charles M. Schulz once said, “I love mankind, it's the people I can't stand.” So I decided that I had to get away from them. People, that is.






Mountains. A long stretch of mountains. They are the walls in front of me; they are the walls behind me; they are the walls on either side of me. I am trapped in a room full of time. I ran to waste time, to forget the past, and to stop thinking. But while the world outside is quiet, the thoughts inside are loud. All I can do to stay sane is stare at the snow-­covered mountains.

After awhile this lifestyle got ­easier, became a sort of habit. Wherever one person was willing to take me, the next person was always ­willing to take me farther. As my journey grew in length, so did my story. It got to the point where even the vaguest version took an hour to ­describe. Helpful as it was with people offering me money or clothes or food, the past was hard to relive. I have been traveling for too long. I can't even remember how long. But that doesn't say much; I can't remember my age ­either.

Lost. I am lost in my thoughts. I am lost in my memories. I am lost in my questions. Where am I? What did I do with my life? Why did I give up on them so easily? Why did my family give up on me so easily? Am I not worth the effort? The only things I am not lost in are the answers. There aren't any.

It took me awhile to get here. The last ride I got was from a man named Steve, who said he was traveling to Hooper Bay to start fishing for king crab, but would drop me at a lodge along the way. Apparently, every winter he and his buddies tried to make some cash by fishing for crabs. You can't imagine how many stories he told me. Between my story and his crabbing tales, there wasn't time for small talk or awkward silences. Yes, Steve was a good man. One of my better friends.

Alone. “My insides don't match up with my outsides.” “Do anyone's?” “I don't know.” “Maybe that's what a person's personality is: the difference between the inside and outside.” “But it's worse for me.” “I wonder if everyone thinks it's worse for him.” “Probably. But it really is worse for me.” Jonathan Safran Foer stole those words from me. For my whole life with my parents, my inside never matched up to my outside. But for once, right now, they did. My inside and my outside are both alone. And no matter how many are part of my short journey, I will always be alone.

It was 12 degrees when we reached the lodge. Steve asked how long I would be staying in the area and I shrugged. He paid for me to stay at the Rainy Pass Lodge for the whole month of December. I tried to stop him, but he insisted and explained it was the money he would save from being on the boat all winter. So I told him how grateful I was to have met such a nice man. He nodded.






Christmas is my favorite holiday. My father used to send the help home for the holidays, but somehow the house never seemed empty or quiet. My mother used to put up a tree in every room of our 10,000 square foot house. She would demolish our kitchen (the one none of our chefs cooked in), filling it with every holiday dish you could imagine. It seemed like she used every cookbook that ever existed. Of course it was only the three of us, so we would have local food drives pick up the leftovers.

My father never even entered his study. Night and day, there was a Christmas song playing. But as soon as I went back to school, the help reappeared, the trees were used as firewood, the kitchen went back to being just another empty room, and my father never came out of his study. The house was silent, except for an occasional plate shattering.






My eyes are trying to cry, but the teardrops freeze before they can trickle down my face.

Someone once told me that the most important words were the unspoken ones. All I can hear are the unspoken words. The land whispers that I am nowhere. The wind whips across my face and I am cold. It takes me a few seconds to remember my name and I realize that I am growing slower. My thoughts wrestle with each other; my mind is anything but peaceful. The mountains keep me from running any farther. I wandered here in complete oblivion and come to the conclusion that I am lost.

It is Christmas day and I am alone. Robert Louis Stevenson once said, “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.” To that, I would have countered him with the story of how I traveled until I couldn't move. And then asked him what to do next.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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