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To understand this article, you should probably know that I like to write. A lot.
This past summer I went to Europe, and I was always writing. On planes, on the bullet trains, on the bus, in the middle of the street, in the hotel rooms, in the museums, I was always the one writing in my journal or on a small pad of paper. People asked me about names and places all the time, because I always had them written down somewhere. I used so much ink in Europe it's crazy.
I try to write everyday, whether its in my journal or in a story. I keep a binder full of all the stuff that I've written, starting from the fourth grade. I also take a lot of pictures and save little things to put in my scrapbook. On my show choir page, I have a thick circle that was cut out of a rubber stopper by the foot of a riser. I also have the piece of my band folder from last year that says "More air is the answer to everything", which my friend Harrison told me once and I wrote it down because I wanted to remember it. I have the hotel room key from the marching band trip to Disney World in 2007. If you ever see me pick up something off the street, which I do a lot actually, it's probably going in there.
I've been trying to decide why I do all of this, why I go out of my way to take pictures and write about my experiences and collect nostalgic knicknacks, and I've finally come to a conclusion.
I am afraid of not remembering.
I want to remember every moment of my life. Everything I ever saw, every feeling I ever experienced, every happy and sad and angry and stressed and devastated moment that ever crossed my path. I've been fairly good at this so far. I remember that the first word I ever spelled correctly from memory was "red", which I did when I was walking out the front door of my house one October morning. I remember that one day when I was little my cousin told me to close my eyes, then when she told me to open them she was holding a Wicked Witch of the West figurine in my face. I started screaming bloody murder and my mom, who had been in the shower, thought I was hurt, so she came running out of the bathroom in a towel to see if I was okay. I remember that the first time I used the f-word was in sixth grade, and it was in a joke that I was telling two of my friends walking through the hallway to math class. I like that I can remember these things, but it doesn't pacify me.
For a long time my biggest fear has been Alzheimer's disease. My great-grandmother died from it. Ironically, I don't remember her very much, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it would be the absolute worst way to die. Everything I've been through means so much to me. I feel like I can't even express it. Everyone I ever met has impacted me in some way, and every place I've ever been and everything I've ever done. Do you know something? I once thought that maybe if you could remember everything that had ever happened to you from the moment you were conceived to the present, the meaning of life would be quite obvious. Would it? Who knows? Who can remember that far back?
Last year there was a day when I came into Etymology class thinking that I had done all my homework for the day. my teacher asked me if I had done something, and I told her I didn't know we were supposed to. Which was true; she didn't count off for it. But it scared me immensely. I didn't even have any memory of that assignment whatsoever. I didn't even remember her mentioning anything close to it, and it had only happened the day before. About a week later, the same thing happened. I knew I was missing something; I write all my homework down right when it is assigned, and I do all of it. And even if I don't remember, I do when I am told about it the next day. So why couldn't I remember these?
I realized then that it was going to be harder for me from now on.
That is when I started taking pictures of everything. That is when I started writing like a maniac. That's when I started my scrapbook, too. Because no matter where my life goes, I never want to forget what is happening right now, every day. I don't want to lose everything I'm going through right now. I don't want to look back in thirty years and wonder what I was like in high school. I don't want to see a friend's senior picture and not be able to tell my children what he or she was like.
People say things like "High school doesn't count," or "Middle school doesn't count," or "Nothing before you turn ___ years old counts." Everything counts for me.
So if I try to take a picture with you, please let me. If I ask you to write in my yearbook, please write more than just your name and some generic end-of-the-year phrase. Let me remember as much as I can, and I'll be happy.