A Personal Essay by Rae Anwar
I wish I could leave behind the weight of nostalgia that clings to my shoulders and slows my steps. I wish I could pluck the feeling from my body, like pieces of lint, and drop it into one of the countless cardboard boxes that once filled my room. I can still detect the scent that carried from one house to the next. Like something stale, something bitter, lingering past its time.
Boxes on boxes. They intruded my home and took every last object, from picture frames to silver spoons. They ate up my home and carried it a thousand miles away.
I wish I packed away nostalgia in a box of its own.
An empty house in the middle of Maryland is what I still call home. Sealed inside are my childhood memories, preserved in empty white walls like a book that’s locked shut, key given away. The house was given away. A mother bought it for her daughter, as if a three-level house with seven bedrooms and four bathrooms that fit my entire family is what a girl in her 20s would require for survival.
A few years ago, I went on an eighteen hour drive and I was there again. We drove to the house for a childish check up. Nostalgia had its grip on me, a painful yet persistent thumping in my chest that dragged me to the twisting road of my old neighborhood. I could see the cherry blossom tree gleam from a mile away, it’s white buds tinged with pink, and the potted flowers on the porch that attract green bugs in the spring — but the house was empty. I peeked through the front window and saw the same empty white walls stare right back. I didn’t know if the girl in her 20s was still getting settled in or had abandoned my home altogether, but I naturally felt a sort of satisfaction, a warm pinkish glow that matched the tinge of the cherry blossoms. My home wasn’t replaced just yet. The walls had stayed the same.
I haven’t seen it since.
The weight on my shoulders isn’t always there. Sometimes it’s lingering in a corner of my mind, out of focus, and for a day or two I’ll forget. But then I resurface the photos from old shoeboxes, or a childhood friend’s birthday rolls around, and the heavy weight remembers that it exists and remembers its sole purpose to nip at my mind. But every time I feel it chip away, bit by bit. Every time a piece of it fades. I can’t remember the colors of the curtains or my best friend’s laugh. I can’t remember the name of the family who lived next door or the face of my fourth grade teacher. I can’t remember the feeling of pain when I first stepped off the plane and saw the printed sign above my head that made my stomach drop to my feet:
Welcome to Little Rock.
Rae Anwar is a Low Caliber co-founder. She is currently studying communications and art. In her free time, Rae likes to take photos and drink coffee. You can find her photos @raeanwarphoto