In the end, I am a fire


Kiera Kemppainen

This is a photo that I love dearly but I began to disassociate it from myself.

When did I become two different people?

My camera roll is full of photos of myself taken from horrendous angles that I chose to send to my friends. They’re quite possibly the worst photos I’ve ever taken, but I love them nonetheless—a wide-eyed pose taken at the notorious “Facebook mom” angle in my kitchen with my highlighter green ski helmet on feels like me. A posed photo in a mirror wearing any dress I’ve ever bought is perfect, but I’ve stopped associating that image with myself. Even two photos taken a mere 24 minutes apart have become different people in my mind. One wears blue jeans and a light yellow and red sweater while the other is clad in a neon green ski suit with an FHC golf sweatshirt over—the true look of a green highlighter.

Somehow in my fifteen years of life, I picked up the fallacy that I could only have one description. I can’t be attractive, jocular, solicitous, and exuberant at the same time. At least, that’s what my mind decided. 

If I one day run out of my kindling, I will fight till the second I become a pile of burnt-out embers to give out the last bit of warmth and light that I can.

My favorite photos in my camera roll are the ones that make me happy when I take them. Some are alluring and some are humorous, but I love when I press on the blue heart outline on my phone and watch as it solidifies. Yet anytime I look back at them, I feel compelled to watch the heart do the opposite. 

Because how can an image that’s coated in neon green fit with one coated in red, yellow, and blue?

While this question would have puzzled me no more than two days ago, I know the answer now.

They all burn the same color. 

Fire is beguiling. The rich tangerine blends with marigold no matter what it burns. The outer appearance doesn’t matter because it all looks the same in the end. 

I am a fire.

Even if I appear different in my photos, I am the same person inside. My appearance will change throughout the years of my future just like it already has in my past. Sure, I may change slightly with my morals and values over time, but I’d like to believe I won’t make drastic changes.

I want to stay a fire. I want the words of Millie Alt to forever describe me. My internal conflict between the two people I saw myself as was eased in five lines of a poem. 

“You, Kiera Kemppainen, are a fire.

You flicker, you burn, you give warmth.

You burn brightly. You love fiercely.

And I love you for it.

So much.”

And in some mysterious way, the fire burned brighter with my tears as the fuel. Many fires would dissipate with water or tears, but not me. I am glowing enough to rival the sun. My fire will not burn down into the thin gray, silver, and black ashes. I am kindled by the words of validation and love that I receive. I give warmth from the words and actions I have received. If I one day run out of my kindling, I will fight to the second I become a pile of burnt-out embers to give out the last bit of warmth and light that I can. I will give back every ounce of love I have ever received and then some more. 

I will burn myself to pieces, in neon green or toned-down primary colors.

Whatever color of the rainbow I am on that day will not matter so long as I am a fire.