“You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.”
When I was a kid I thought I was special. No one told me I was especially special, as a matter of fact, it was quite the opposite. Yet, something inside of me made me believe that I was different and special, and my circumstances didn’t define me. Throughout life, I used that to fuel my desires to achieve more than what was given to me. It was the sole reason I was able to live through some of the darkest traumas. I felt like I had this light, this unseen aura that protected me from my pre-determined destiny. This anchor I created for myself, this coping mechanism, enabled me to reach for an unattainable life that now, has been ripped from under me.
As I stand in here, in the kitchen, in the house I grew up in, in the social housing complex that looks like a slightly deteriorated version of the houses I remember so vividly, I stand here trying to remember when was the last time I lived here. I remember how I told myself I was more than these walls, more than the stereotypes of this neighbourhood. I stare diagonally across the screened kitchen window, imaging Chris was still alive, wondering how his room looks now and what these unrecognizable people are doing walking out of his front door. As I turn my head to the right looking straight ahead, I see the makeshift memorial created for the teenager that was tragically killed last year, in front of what I know as JP’s house. A huge picture of the young victim I didn’t know, with gathered patio chairs and wilted flowers in front of a house with a hopeless bright pink paint job, that I suppose was done to lift the spirits of those now living in JPs place. Then, in the corner of my eye I see someone I recognize. A silhouette of a girl I used to know. Now a woman, just a couple of years older than me in the same place I am. She bares the stereotypes of this area. She was once a child living under her single mom’s roof, a strong woman, I remember, a woman trying to better her child’s life, maybe telling her she was special and she could make it out of here. Now, her mother gone just across the street living in the bland beige buildings so this woman I recognize, can raise her children, as a single mother, in that same house. I watch her, unraveled, just like me, unpacking groceries, just as I’ve done that morning, walking up the same driveway she grew up on, just. like. me. She is everything I thought I wasn’t. She is everything I didn’t want to be. She is where I am, now.
That’s the thing about pandemics, I guess, they humble you. No matter what I’ve done, what I’ve seen, what I thought I’ve accomplished, it has landed me in the same place as this person I thought I was beyond. I am not this special person I concocted. I am the same woman as her. I am no better or worse, I am not unique, I am not more or less successful, and these walls that I’ve been so ashamed of, are just walls. These walls are comforting, have saved me time and time again and these walls, these walls, don’t define me or her. I may have been delusional but now I am grateful.
Canadian writer currently living abroad.
Wrote a book, once.
Reluctantly has Instagram; @thewordmichelle.