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The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The melting pot: in memoriam

Autumn VanSolkema
The airport where so many memories are stored for me.

As my hands push the solid steel of the wrought iron gates, I take my first step into the cold, uninviting mist, and I’m plunged into the bottomless waters of grief.

Nothing is out of the ordinary. The grass is worn to the dirt, tracing the memory of the exact footpath I’ve wandered regularly before. The headstones that emerge from the foggy surroundings first haven’t changed: no lacerations have blemished the glassy finish, and traces of forest-like growth are far from sight; they are in pristine condition, even after all this time. 

Though my normal journeys through this park leave me standing for a lengthy period at each memorial, I keep my eyes on the ground covered in front of me. My goal isn’t to be rude to the tributes I’m passing by; I probably have each memory that’s displayed and learned by heart. 

The plaque off to the right showcases two girls settled in a car, their ceaseless laughter frozen in the frame, as they prattle on about unimportant, time-filling subjects that meant the world at the time. In their hands are the remnants of the worrying amounts of food consumed during their debrief about life. The memorial doesn’t show the great stomach pains they both suffered through later, but it snapped a picture of before when their cheeks were sore from grinning, and the intermittent silence was comfortable.

The second plaque I remember coming across reveals two girls sprawled upon a blanket that protects their clothes from the dewy grass. The glossy finish of their guitars seems to demonstrate the pleasant whistle of the tunes that are protected by their souls, and the flaming painting of the sun drifting off below the horizon is mirrored in the naivety of their eyes. Once again, no words are needed to express the gravity that ties the moment down. The music says plenty.

I don’t want to make my journey longer and more emotional than it needs to be.

I want to quicken my pace just so I can inhale something other than the restrictive, thin atmosphere that always appears to cloud this cemetery while the memories make my eyes sting. As my footsteps migrate closer to my destination, the clouds above begin to separate in the slightest, lighting the weathered path ahead in the soft, honey-hazed glow of the evening.

The names and dates engraved in the stones I continue to pass hold a significant position in previous events scrawled into my calendar. Part of me wishes to pause at each of them to let myself be overwhelmed with the nostalgic grief I’m becoming familiar with, but I don’t want to make my journey longer and more emotional than it needs to be.

When I finally step in front of the burial site, I know inside and out that my solemn expression is reflected in the gravestone that presents my name. The marine blue of my eyes turns navy, and as I stare at myself, the sounds that have filled the last year flood my ears: the chaotic laughter that exposed the personalities in my friendships during passing periods, the songs that I’ve vaulted in the spaces of certain emotions, and the cadence of conversation and convenient stillness in morning visits with my favorite people.

However, something is different this time around. It’s minor, but noticeable. Centered on the site in front of my headstone, surrounded by the undisturbed soil, sits a single seedling. Alone. Suddenly, my perspective is misplaced momentarily, shifting to the bigger picture beyond the frame of my headstone. I am given the gift of intention, for now I appreciate that every conclusion, every grave dug to bury the past, consistently fuels the new growth of future beginnings. 

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About the Contributor
Rowan Szpieg
Rowan Szpieg, Staff Writer
Rowan is entering her first year on The Central Trend as a junior writer. Her love of writing developed in recent years through expressive poetry. Although it is a hobby that assumes a bit of her time already, when she's not sitting back with a new writing piece on her computer, you can find her playing her guitar. Any spare time she has that's not occupied with family or friends is spent learning to play new songs. She also loves to spend her nights under the stars around a bonfire in the summer and laughing too much playing board games in the winter. Rowan is always up for a movie night as a way to share her interest in film. When she's not watching a movie, she has Friends playing in the background on every occasion.   Comfort movie: The Proposal Favorite time of the year: When Christmas music starts to play Favorite book: Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom Favorite song to play on guitar: Don't Think Twice, It's All Right by Bob Dylan Has she shortened her watchlist of movies? Not at all! It's still over 300

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    Addie McDowellJun 3, 2024 at 10:38 am

    rowan, this is the most amazing thing i have ever read. i’m so proud of you and i truly hope you never stop writing