I carried Piglet from apartment to house to house, frayed and graying pink and decidedly female. She lives in the two homes on my back, one with yellow walls and one with newly painted bright middle-school blue. Now my walls are blue-gray clean, and Piglet sits at the top of a mountain of stuffed animals tucked away in the corner, watching over.
My first move, I carried nine year old anxiety and attachment–I held onto my home in Boston until the last possible second. The moving truck pried it from my fingertips and escorted me to the unfamiliar forest land and Jewish school that would become my home. On the first day of third grade in my new school, I locked myself in the car and refused to walk in before being drawn out by a gently coaxing, wispy haired acquaintance who would become my very best friend.
At fourteen, I carried the hope that my second big move would coax similar results from my reluctant self, and I walked through my house for the last time. Sentimentality overflowed from my pockets, spilling out onto the vacuumed floor until I waded through fourteen years of memories. I remembered the hallway from my room to my parents’ room and the red patterned rug that stretched from my door to theirs; when they fought, I would lie myself down on the rug outside their door and cry until they came out. I carried their tension in my shoulders and their love in my soul. I carried the climbing tree and the backyard swing and I wondered if when I am older, this will be the house I picture when I tell my children about where I grew up, or if it would be some patchwork of the three, and I will talk of change and growth.
Entering Newton, I carried the hope that an unfamiliar mattress on the floor could feel like home. I had never taken the bus. The walls of the new school felt like a maze. There, I shrunk myself down to a non-threatening size, and I carried my newness tentatively on my back.
Even now, I carry “psycho,” tossed carelessly from a young boy’s mouth on the second day of high school. At fourteen, I balanced “new kid” and “psycho” carefully on each strap of my big black backpack. I carried the pile of clothes I tried on and discarded on the night of Alexandra Goldman’s party, my first party, desperately searching for something that straddled the line, stood out enough to blend in.
I still carry an imaginary white t-shirt with the feminist emblem I did not ask for, subject to stares and judgements and questions; I carry incredulous boys asking why. I carry bossy and talkative and passionate and personality. I carry my classmates questions, I am the extrovert who will eventually speak up, the (sometimes too-loud) call-out voice for their concerns.
I carry circles, cycling through sixth thoughts before arriving back at the first one, recycling old heartbreak with a fresh nauseous twist. I carry the confidence of a young woman who breaks her own heart open and lives to tell the tale. I carry the limp bodies of my friends, one draped over each arm, until their tears turn slowly with time. I carry rug burn on the inside of my chest from when it was scraped clean. I carry the weight of my parents’ love, light upon my shoulders, pulling me up up up.
Some days, when the load is heavy, I take Piglet out from the pile next to my bed, and she holds me and reminds me of Boston and Lincoln and the changes I’ve endured and loved.
Written by Aviva Rosenberg
The Things I Carry
I carry sticky notes and planners and crumpled pieces of college-ruled paper, reminding me to finish that homework assignment, to find a job, to buy more photo paper. I carry an analog camera, the same one that my terrified freshman self carried through empty, uncomfortably chilly hallways as she struggled to find friends to eat with at lunch. I carry my father’s hazel eyes, tired and too large, and his nose, which sags a little at the bottom like melting wax. I carry my mother’s chickeny legs, which she tells me are wonderful and long but have always looked awkward to me. I carry sadness, at times, the weight of being average and not particularly smart or athletic in a town where everyone seems to be extraordinary.
When I was younger I carried a rock with me to school, a superstition that I was not able to grow out of until I entered high school. I carried a cell phone with no contacts and loneliness as I sat in my bedroom on Friday nights, waiting for a friend to invite me to her house. I still carry that loneliness at times, that inescapable feeling of being surrounded by many but also no one, of being within and without.
I carry the guilt of not being perfect, the expectation to be a good daughter and sister and to go to my father’s alma mater. I carry the desire to please my parents, to be the child that my brother is not. I carry images of him throwing phones and lamps and chairs, of hiding car keys and knives and waiting behind locked doors. I carry my sister at times, away from our house as my brother begins yelling. I carry my mother, her tears and frustration and painfully sad eyes, and she carries me, something that I will forever be grateful for.
I carry myself. I carry a stomach that feels too large, cheeks that have not yet lost their baby fat, freckles that form on my nose after spending hours in the sun. I carry a pair of reading glasses that are too large on me and always slide down my nose. I wish I carried confidence and pride, but mostly I carry insecurity and the fear not being accepted by my peers. I carry a nasally voice that I despise and a mole beside my right ear that my family has always hated.
I carry turned out feet and pointe shoes and damaged hair from years of making buns every day. I carry my love for dance and an endless appreciation for the thirteen years I had at Boston Ballet. I carry memories of infinite hours in a studio, of tears and frustration and self-loathing. Ever since I stopped ballet, I carry emptiness and the weight of regret, a colossal part of my identity was ripped from me the moment I stopped dancing.
I carry the endless feeling that I am not good enough, that I am not smart enough, that I am not fast enough, that I am not worthy of success. I carry the fear of disappointing my parents, my friends, and myself. But I also carry joy and gratefulness, love and hope. I carry my favorite John Irving novel, pictures of my best friend, incredibly delicious pints of Phish Food ice cream, four-leaf clovers, and really, really good short stories. I carry happy memories, of singing Bruce Springsteen in the car with my brother and running through sprinklers and climbing rocks and mountains and trees.
I carry nervous tics, eye twitches and peeled skin underneath my thumbs. I carry twelve pink scars on my right wrist, the weight of hopelessness and a lack of purpose and a feeling of failure. But I also carry love, for my friends and family and my dog and “Forrest Gump.” I carry the knowledge that I am worthy of care and surrounded by affection. I carry memories of pillow fights, lazy Sundays, late-night ice cream runs, sunsets on the beaches, memories of love and joy. I carry tears from countless Friday night meltdowns, but I also carry tears from overwhelming laughter and smiles and moments of pride. I will continue to carry myself through all the difficult times, knowing that I am worthy.
Written by Isabella Auerbach