While we were in the Redwoods, Abby Falik, the founder and CEO of Global Citizen Year, said something during her presentation that really stuck with me. Well, she said a lot of really cool things, but one thing in particular resonated with me that got me a little concerned. She said, “Some of you may look around and think, ‘Maybe, somehow, I slipped through the cracks. Am I really supposed to be here? Am I really what they were looking for?'” She then reassured us that no, we had not slipped through the cracks. That each of us ended up here intentionally. That this was not a mistake.
I kept thinking about that. And not about the second part, the part where she reassured us. I was more caught up on that initial doubt. Because there I was, in this beautiful place with these genuine people who all seemed to face the world with such confidence and joy, and I felt small. I felt lonely. I felt homesick. I also felt happy and full and excited and a million other things I had never felt before and I knew that would happen eventually this year, that experiencing of new and strange feelings. But I didn’t know it would happen so soon. By the end of day three, I was exhausted. I was curious. And I was scared.
Small talk is not a strength of mine. Big talk kind of loses me too. I say “Hi, I’m Myriam, I’m from Miami, and I’m going to Brazil.” But I would rather just give you a box of photographs. Project the workings of my mind onto a screen, so that you might understand me. Show you how I think: in slam poetry and dance choreography and hypotheticals and metaphors. Tell you about how I love warmth. How I love sitting in the passenger seat of cars and closing my eyes and repositioning my face to the sunlight. How I love the feeling of peeing after I’ve been out in the cold. But you can’t exactly introduce yourself with “Hi, I’m Myriam, I’m from Miami, I’m going to Brazil, and I like to pee.”
Though I suppose that’s exactly what I just finished doing.
I remember when I used to sleep with a safety rail secured to the right side of my bed, the side that wasn’t against the wall, so that I wouldn’t fall off my bed in the middle of the night. I would line my stuffed animals up on either side of my little body and talk to them until I fell asleep, telling them stories inspired by the ridges in the walls and the places where the paint had chipped, kind of like the way people construct stories about the images they see in clouds.
I also remember when the safety rail came down. When I put my stuffed animals in brown paper bags to be given away and then, without an audience to hear my stories, when the bumps and patterns on that yellow wall by my bed lost their magic.
Well, “Hi, I’m Myriam, I’m from Miami, I’m going to Brazil, and I can’t wait to start telling stories again. Except this time, the bed rails are really, really gone.”