The ribbons of love have kept me standing


Natalie Mix

My best friend, Katarina Lalic, one of the people who has stayed and made me feel so loved

The past few months have found my sticker-adorned laptop consistently overloaded with tabs partitioned by windows correlating to each of my six subjects. 

This system has become a necessity, the only way to keep the overwhelm and consecutive despondency at bay. It’s the combined effect of junior year’s expected tribulations and the unexpected storm that the last year and a half has thrown my way that now results in a poorly kept list of missing assignments and zeroes down the grade book. 

But the very presence of these innumerable rock identification assignments and rhetorical analyses that relentlessly reside on my computer is evidence of the progress I’ve endured over the last three months. Every time my mouse clicks the little “x” in the corner, there’s a thrill of satisfaction in achieving something, in tiptoeing one step closer to the girl I used to know so well. 

It’s compelling to say that she’s gone now; it provides a poetic finality, crafts a fresh facade to mold as the future rests upon the ever-advancing horizon. 

But she’s not. 

While I may be forever changed, always a product of the emptiness and brokenness this last year found me reveling in, I am also still the same little girl I was ten years ago—a pioneer of all that I longed to create—and the same person that I was a year and a half ago, who was finally rediscovering the happiness she’d known before the anxiety became so persistent.

I am simply growing, changing, learning—as I will until the day I die—but nonetheless, very innately me.

But I’ve been so focused on the minuscule pearls of growth that I’ve been stringing together for the past few months, that I’ve neglected to look at what they’ve created, a shocking realization considering how often I agonizingly philosophize over my own existence. 

Yet as I sat in room 139/140 yesterday, on the infamous brown couch, alone in the quaint stillness, I happened upon my Countless Thanks from November of this past year, and I cried.

Quietly and simply, but tears nonetheless, at remembering how lost I was, but more importantly, how that powerlessness left me entirely dependent on the people that filled in the cracks. 

It’s taken me far too long to admit how I pieced myself back together, but in a way, I feel like I’ve always known how other people pieced me back together, even if I’m only putting it to words now. 

This year was like falling—falling, falling, falling, in a way I may have always been falling, until I shattered against what I can only assume was the ground. 

And now I’m rebuilding, creating my castle on stable footing, with a constantly shifting vision of the final portrait. 

But the people were always there, to compensate while I was busy falling, to prepare the stage for my landing, and now to hand me the bricks as I stack them back up to dreams of insurmountable heights. 

To every text asking me if I was okay and promising it was fine if I didn’t answer; to every time someone picked up the phone too late at night; to the people who literally got me out of bed in the morning, who woke me up with coffee and chai tea, who worried at night; to every person who accepted what I had to give and saw past that to who I truly was, even when all they’d seen was what I wasn’t; to every person who welcomed me back with open arms and made me feel seen and loved; and to every person who stayed to watch what I will become: thank you, thank you beyond the power of my trivial, maudlin words. 

I am not often speechless, but just how far I’ve come since December has left me looking for the right words, and I can’t quite find them. 

I am here, a soon-to-be Editor-in-Chief, fulfillingly busy, luxuriating in May, trying so hard to be on time for Geology every morning, and contentedly dreaming of summer.

And amidst it all—life almost back to normal and at a pace I can recognize and keep up with—I am entwined in ribbons of love, holding me together even once I’ve learned how to keep myself together. 

So there’s an unadulterated bliss to crying alone in room 139/140 over how much progress I’ve made and the staggering love I have for the people who have stayed.