She is deciphering life from the inside out


Sofia Hargis-Acevedo

This was taken at one of the restaurants I always used to go to when I was a kid, especially when I lived in the house with the azure shudders.

Colors painted in spontaneous navy swirls remind her of her old home on Dean Street.

The cream horizontal paneling with azure shutters and front porch will forever be a picture ingrained into her mind. Inside the little home was a playroom with a small TV, all of her toys, and a pink, folding couch with Dora the Explorer all over it. In that playroom was where she would stand on the plush couch and dance to the songs in one of her favorite movies, Scooby-Doo and the Legend of the Vampire—she always wanted to be the lead vampire-vocalist in the band. She would ask her mom to paint her nails red and black, just like hers. She would copy the dance moves that she would see on the little screen.

She eventually moved away from the house with the azure shutters, but she never stopped watching Scooby-Doo.

There is a spot in the back of her mind where the memories of that playr​​oom live and thrive—where all of her other emotions gather in harmony

That is the spot where everything she has ever done was decided: what she wears, how she acts, how she feels, and so on. There is Joy: the one that is the most apparent throughout her life. There is Sadness: the one that makes an entrance from a tragedy, or simply a very emotional movie. There is Anger: the one that comes out when nothing seems to go her way. There is Fear: who is most alert when she tries something new and daring, or when a large bug flies by. Lastly, there is Disgust: the one that voices her opinions on questionable food. 

These are her emotions. They are the ones that either make her day fly by graciously, but much faster than anticipated, or they are the ones that make her day slow, like she is stuck in quicksand. They provide her with ideas for her future, and they provide her with dreams to fulfil her slumber.

At every pivotal moment of my life, more and more colors are added, and more and more core memories are made.”

But most importantly, they store every moment that has ever happened to her as memories. Whether they were minute or indelible, her memories occasionally make a reappearance in the front of her brain. She loves to reminisce over her past—those are times when Joy conquers the others; those are the times when no other emotion can fill the void of nostalgia but her. 

Now, every memory has its own definable qualities that make them priceless; however, there are a select few memories that are irreplaceable, even unforgettable: core memories.

The core memories are what shape me as a human being. They are what define my emotions, therefore defining my persona.​ They brush their paints wistfully onto my canvas, depicting a one-of-a-kind masterpiece that is me. A plethora of colors fly across that rough, white canvas in a streaky, smooth, or swirly manner. This painting never is truly finished. At every pivotal moment of my life, more and more colors are added, and more and more core memories are made.

The colors painted in streaks of bright lilac remind me of July 18, 2015. That was when she saw Taylor Swift live during her 1989 tour. She was in one of the very top rows, but it didn’t bother her that I could barely make out where Taylor Swift was on stage; she was just overjoyed to see my idol in person. She remembers the whole concert. She remembers her opening with “Welcome to New York,” which she thought was ironic, since she was in Chicago. She remembers watching the backup dancers during “I Know Places,” wanting to one day be like them. She remembers listening to “Fifteen,” a surprise performance from an earlier album, Fearless. She remembers screaming louder than she had ever screamed before. Pure euphoria was radiating off of her like sun rays. She still listens to those songs today, and she longs to grasp that feeling once again.

Sadness is the one who truly fills the void of nostalgia. I am drowned with the sadness that those memories will never be made again.”

Elsewhere on the canvas, the colors splattered about in an emerald green remind me of my neighbor’s house. In the formation of a triangle, there were three pine trees in their front yard. She was best friends with their two daughters, especially the youngest. The three of them would play outside almost every day in the summertime. When the sun was blinding overhead and the heat was nearly unbearable, their mother would call them in for lemonade. 

It wasn’t long before they would all go back outside and climb the three pine trees. They would all grab bungee cords from the garage and wrap one end around their waist and the other around a branch, giving themselves support. They would spend hours in those trees pretending to be pirates. The oldest would always call dibs on being captain, and the other two were lookouts. The three of them would spend the day shouting nonsense at one another and then hiding from cars. To us, they were “the enemy ships.” 

They rarely ever talk now, and she can’t recall the last time she was sitting on one of those tree branches with her hands and hair covered in sap.

She pauses for a moment from a lifetime of painting to step back and admire the colored canvas. She smiles at first, for she is proud of what she has created, yet her wide grin fades much quicker than it should have. 

She finally realizes that it isn’t Joy that she feels when looking back into her past; it is Sadness. 

Sadness is the one who truly fills the void of nostalgia. I am drowned with the sadness that those memories will never be made again. The navy, lilac, and the emerald have all been brushed over, barely peeking through layers and layers of new grey paint. Sure, there is a splash of yellow and pink here and there, but it isn’t col​​ored with the same purity, joy, and innocence that it once had.

Now, Anger has taken control.

I am angry. I am angry over how I can control so many aspects of my life except time. I can try and try again, but each attempt will be futile. My cheeks turn a fiery crimson, burning with rage. I want to scream at the world every moment in her life that I regret—every moment that I wished I lived better.

That is when Disgust takes the wheel.

I can’t explain it—it disgusts me that I am getting older. I don’t want to grow up. I want to go back to playing Pirates under the blazing August sun. I want to watch every Scooby-Doo movie that has ever been made. I want to get lost in the euphoria that still radiates off the 1989 tour, but I am growing up.

That is when Fear blankets everything else.

I am growing up. I am going to get her driver’s license soon. My parents are talking to me about college. I have to decide within two years what the rest of my life will look like.

That terrifies me.

What will the painting look like in ten years? Fifteen? Will the vibrant colors dance lively on the painting once more, or will the paints become a more dull, emotionless grey?

Will any memory from now on even be worth remembering?