July 26, 2008
By Elizabeth S., Round Rock, TX

“I think it’s dangerous to not have some temporary escape. Those who concentrate only on reality find it an ugly place… Everyone has their own reality or sanctuary… What’s your sanctuary?” I sat there stunned, staring at the page in the spiral Miriam, my best friend, left in my purse the night before. Her completely true words, mixed in with pictures of different bands, song lyrics, and drawings, hit me hard. I couldn’t even put into words what I was thinking at first. I continued to stare at the page and tried to process what it really meant.

Suddenly pulled out of my thoughts by my ringing cell phone, I answered with a rather distant voice, “Hello?”

“Hey,” I heard my boyfriend’s voice in return.

“Hey, Adam,” I barely heard myself reply. “How are you?”

“I’m fine, but how are you? You sound pretty distant. You ok?”

I shook my head to clear it, willing myself to pay attention. “Oh, I’m fine, just thinking,” I answered, dreading the words I knew were coming.
“’Bout what?”

He laughed slightly at my sigh, and I decided I didn’t really have a reason not to tell him. “Well, just something Miriam wrote in her spiral that caught my attention. It’s nothing, really.”

I knew that answer wouldn’t satisfy him, and as if to prove my point, he promptly asked, “What is it? What did she write?”

I read to him exactly what Miriam had written and waited for his reaction. After a moment, choosing his words carefully, he asked simply, “What about it are you thinking about, exactly?”

I tried to find the best words, then realized the best wording was staring right at me. “What’s my sanctuary, Adam? What’s my temporary escape? I’m not exactly sure, and that may explain my minor depression of late.”

There proceeded to be a long pause. I stroked the smooth, plain, black cover of Miriam’s spiral with one hand, while sitting on my unmade bed. With the other hand, I played with my red bedspread and wondered what Adam could be thinking. Maybe he would come up with some brilliant answer for me.

Like he could read my mind, he suddenly broke the silence with, “You know I can’t answer that for you, right?”

“Yeah, I know,” I sighed, launching us into another long silence. This time I got up from my bed and rummaged through my black and white circles purse for my poetry book. I rubbed the bumpy, blue cover, wishing I had the words to express my thoughts.

Lacking anything else to say on the subject, we began talking about our day at school and did not again mention sanctuaries. It stayed on my mind, but I got nowhere new in my thought process. By the time I hung up with Adam, I had to take my shower and get ready to go to sleep.

During my shower, I thought long and hard about what my sanctuary could be. I knew I had to have one, or else I’d be in a mental institution by now. Reality is indeed an ugly place. “So what could it be?” I asked myself aloud. My first guess would be my friends. I talk to them and they make me laugh whenever I’m upset about anything. But my second thought jumped to books. Quite literally, I use them to temporarily escape from life. Each one I see as a new reality to explore. I finally settled for “books” as my answer as I stepped out of the shower and proceeded with my usual routine, but something just didn’t feel right about that answer. I felt as if I were missing some information, some elusive thought that would answer my question without a doubt.

Dressed in my blue and green striped pajama bottoms and my black, baggy, Navy t-shirt, I sat down on my bed, picking up my poetry book still lying there. My immediate desire became to write a poem to help me think through all the thoughts twirling fast circles inside my head, but I couldn’t find the words. I settled instead for writing a type of journal entry in a composition book I had lying around.

In the middle of one of my sentences, a new thought occurred to me. “What did I want to do just now because something’s bothering me?” I muttered out loud. “What am I doing right now?” “I’m writing,” I answered myself in a mild state of shock.


Words are my sanctuary. I use them to my advantage in different ways, but to reach the same goal: dealing with reality. I like to read when I’m upset because it feels like this reality disappears and doesn’t exist anymore. I’m in another world and all my problems are those of the main character. I like to write poetry to express my feelings or help me think through something. Writing poetry or similar things helps me organize my thoughts. And, I like to write things completely new; I like to create my own realities, thus escaping from this one. No matter how I use them, I use words to escape from and deal with this ugly, messed up place called reality.

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