Life Account #1: Ad Meliora

Katherine ChenOctober 24, 2022

My childhood memories are tagged by isolated stays in isolated places, such as the tiny area next to the children’s park where I loved to carve out ants’ paths or the Starbucks balcony where I sat to quietly observe the scene of other kids’ laughter. Solitude has always followed me, but I still belong to a community: the community of those who I love and those who love me.

The term "community" possesses an unusual power. It exudes a sense of belonging and optimism. A tiny piece of me belongs to love in individual ways. In a special room of my heart, I store the bittersweet memories of my first crush, who I used to deem too perfect for this world; fuzzy moments of childhood mischief, with my sister wearing Dad’s necktie; cuddly movie nights with my parents under a sky with unrealistically symmetrical stars painted by Mom; fuschia-colored ice cream hunts with my best friend; and a long, long list of more unrequited puppy love and the consequent tears that flooded but dried before actual grief oozed in (maybe tears of immaturity?). Memories seem to be separated, but love, in any form, sews them into a mottled tapestry that hangs on the wall between childhood and adulthood, which is where I stand now.

No one can always be certain of where they are or where they are going. Everyone seems to be lost in different places, like when I called my sister with heaving angst in my throat to tell her I was lost, but the only clue I had about where I was was those typical trees around me. Life is a curvy path that is only occasionally punctuated by the pulsating lurid colors of midafternoon haze or the emerald froth of dusk. Most of the time, we see identicaltrees leaning against each other along the way to confuse us. But we should know that it is okay to be lost or to descend into the depths of loneliness in such circumstances. There are people who love us and people whom we love, knitting an azure community that locates you even when the only message you give them is: I am behind two trees (just like how my sister found me immediately after I called her that day). A community does not need any literal definition; it is just a place of belonging to remind us wanderers that anytime we look back, there will be someone behind us to listen to our muffled shouts, pangs of regret, cries of injuries jarred by reality’s candor, and those not-so-beautiful moments when we can’t help but stagger. I may be lost and so are you, but within the boundless protection of our communities, love steers us clear of all trouble.

Katherine Chen is a 16-year-old from Taiwan. She is interested in Chinese calligraphy, poetry, science, and French language and culture.