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It's not just a volleyball

It was 2001. I was a college freshman. I had this red spiral notebook that I'd put practically every poem I'd ever written, every page full of words, lines crossed out, words scribbled in the margins. It's hard to remember what poems I wrote in that notebook. My first semester in college, I roomed with my high school best friend and another girl whose name was Danielle. That's right. Someone in residential life thought it would be cute to place two Danielles in a room. Perhaps we'd have more in common than our names? That lasted a semester and when we decided to split from Danielle into a different dorm building, somehow I packed everything but the notebook. I went back to the old dorm at the top of the spring semester desperate to find it. What comes to mind is that scene from Cast Away when Chuck Noland has finally built himself a raft and risks it all on the open sea but one day he wakes up to see his volleyball, Wilson, drifting away. This scene always makes me cry. Poor Chuck talked to a volleyball as his only friend on a deserted island for years.


My junior year of high school was arguably the worst year of my education. For the first time in my life, I failed a class. It was chemistry. And I think I got a C- in American History. And I passed AP English only by the mercy of my teacher. I was absolutely expecting an F in that class too. That's right. I almost failed AP English, me, a poet. Junior year is that year that everyone tells students to ace to prep for college. Let's just say that I had to work extra hard during my senior year to even think about college. Senior year of high school, I went to Orlando with my dad for a poetry contest. I didn't win but the poem ended up in an anthology. I was seventeen and it was the first time I'd ever seen a poem of mine published, appropriately titled "Can You Read My Eyes" for all the pain that I was masking masterfully. I was so hurt those years. Some days I laid my head on my desk and cried for a whole period. Still I managed to compartmentalize my trauma and I wore a smile at church and at home. The only other place I cried was in this notebook. I was on an island in so many ways and this notebook was my Wilson.

 

Thinking about that now, I remember how much I regretted losing it. I learned to put some way of contacting me in my notebooks and to type up my poems more often just in case I ever dropped a notebook into a river while crossing a bridge or my notebook magically combusted or if I ever just forgot to pack it up like I did that semester. Aside from that, I'm thinking about every poem that I've written since then. I've learned that lost things are not the end and I may have a roundabout way of getting to where I'm going but the journey of finding Wilson is the story of finding me. I don't need that notebook to know that version of me needed lots of healing and had it not been for the poems I wrote in that notebook…but I'm here now and I am alive.


For a long time, I've been feeling my way around this blog, trying to figure out what it is I want to say and I think I've finally arrived at my answer. This is a story of becoming. A story of poetry and recovery. The personal saga of how I arrived at poetry and all things art. So indulge me while I share. I don't know what will come of this but I'm open to this adventure. Here's to finding Wilson!

 

D. Colin, she/her


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