I Carry This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category.

January 12, 2011
By , Randolph, NJ
I carry a memory.

I carry a memory of the tiny white house with the American flag – the one that sat at the edge of the road, silent and stoic, watching cars speed past with the 6 o'clock commutes. I carry a memory of the early morning sun rising high over the big red barn in the backyard, stretching its rays in a peaceful yawn, the guest of honor at Sunday morning breakfast. I carry a memory of golden blueberry pancakes bathed in syrup, and the swing set delivered by Santa Claus one Christmas Eve, and the crunch of gravel in the driveway, and the fish-painted walls of my bedroom.

I carry a memory of a golden world, a bubble that began at the edge of the road where the tiny white house sat, silent and stoic, watching cars speed past with the 6 o'clock commutes, and ended down in the woods behind the big red barn that acted as a curtain for the early morning sun. The tiny white house with the American flag carried a family – me, my mother, and my father – until the tiny white house became too tiny to carry us all.

It's getting cooler. The fall sky carries the setting sun like I carry my paintbrush across a canvas, leaving vivid strokes of color and the smell of something new. I carry each stroke like a burden relieved, a triumph, a step closer to a finished product. I carry the fear of the unfinished. The trees carry leaves that jingle in the wind and glow in the sunset, and I carry my overnight bag in the trunk of my car. Clothing, homework, computer, keys, makeup, jacket – I carry it all, my life in travel size.

Every other weekend I carry myself away from one home and to the other, and on my face I carry a smile even though this is a disruption, a nuisance, a disturbance in my everyday routine. I carry the longing for simplicity, for stability, for the unity of the tiny white house, but there is no unity in divorce; there is only mine and yours and his and hers and this or that and no and never and no again. It's painted in white or it's painted in black and there is no value scale or in-between or area of gray. It's a predictable composition, tiring, and I carry it with difficulty.

The alarm rings and I fend off the dreams and force myself awake. It's a school day, midwinter, and the sleep lingers. I carry it with me through a breakfast of hot coffee, through mumbled good-byes, through heating the frosted car, through the early morning drive past the tiny white house, now coated with snow, and the early-morning traffic outside my school.

I carry the sleep like I carry my bag on my shoulder that holds the vocabulary and the painting and the worksheet and the study guide and the notes and the textbook and the article that kept me up all night in a stress-induced, sleep-deprived panic. I carry the fear that I forgot something like I carry the cold.

Snow turns to rain and things bloom. The earth carries green like a trophy and I carry years of dancing like a prize. I carry a tap shoe with a scuff on the heel and a crease in the arch, old and broken-in like the friendships I've made and the skills I've mastered – the toe stand, the pull back, the draw back, the riff. I carry the rhythm of the taps against the hardwood floor – one-and-a-two-and-three-and-four – like the rhythm of a catchy song on the radio.

I carry a jazz shoe with a smooth sole that reminds me of the hours spent, the time passed, the trials and tribulations. I carry my fouettés, my pirouettes, my chaînés in the strength of my legs. I carry my chin up and my back straight – no slouching, never slouching – my body lifted and my feet stretched and my mind turning, spinning, counting out the steps. I carry the memory of my first recital, how afterward I went home with just one parent to a house that was not white and not tiny and did not carry a family, but a piece, a fraction, a slice.

I pack up and I carry my things to the beach house. The heat of the summer sun is carried by my dog in his noisy panting and by the sweat on the lemonade glass and the strenuous hum of the ceiling fan. I carry the relief of the saltwater spray on my skin, and I carry sunscreen, tanning spray, an umbrella, a beach chair, a towel, a tote, a sundress.

I carry sand in my hair, in my clothes, in my shoes, sand anywhere and everywhere, ground into the carpet, brushed under the rug, trailed through the kitchen. I carry the smell of barbecue in the backyard, the turn of bicycle tires down the street, and the drip of an ice cream cone in the early-evening heat. I carry the echo of midsummer fireworks like I carry the echo of yelling that seeped into the walls, that sunk into the floor, that crowded the rooms of the tiny white house until we were suffocating, until they realized that it wasn't going to work.

I carry fears – the fear of failure, of imperfection, of the future, of life. I carry laughter and happiness and friendships and hope and the good and the bad and the right and the wrong. I carry two separate families because one didn't work. I carry two separate keys and two separate rooms and two separate homes because one didn't work. I carry two separate expectations and two separate hearts. I carry the acceptance that sometimes things are broken, and I carry relief because it could have been worse; the mess could have consumed me.

I carry the stress of school and the love of dance and the freedom of art. But I also carry a memory of the tiny white house with the American flag – the one that sat at the edge of the road, silent and stoic, watching cars with the 6 o'clock commutes speed past.

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

This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category. This piece won the April 2011 Teen Ink Nonfiction Contest.






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This article has 6 comments. Post your own now!

eliana924 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 4, 2012 at 8:59 pm
Wow this is so beautiful it almost made me cry
 
xLauren This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 9, 2011 at 12:39 pm
I saw this in the magazine in which it was published, and I have to say, it's beautiful. Beyond beautiful, actually. It really did touch me. I love the way you describe everything, and your writing style in general. Amazing work.
 
Rachael L. said...
Apr. 2, 2011 at 11:53 pm
This was really amazing. So beautifully painted out. It capture the heart and soul of everything. Awesome job, keep writing!
 
Kaitlynnk This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 4, 2011 at 3:56 pm
Thank you very much.  That means a lot. 
 
Vespa said...
Mar. 31, 2011 at 11:38 pm
This is amazing! You magnificently conveyed a child's sorrow and a teenager's anger and acceptance all in one. I wish I could say that I could sympathize with you, but I can't. The closest I can get is when I was forced to move from a place that was the closest thing to home that I've ever had. Anyway, the whole piece was fantastic, keep up the writing!
 
Kaitlynnk This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 4, 2011 at 3:59 pm
Thank you!
 
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