Elsewhere: A place memories are rewritten

Published 8:00 am Thursday, May 25, 2023

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There are a lot of words I want to say, but I was unsure how they’d spill out of me in this column. 

I thought they’d come to me while I spent my weekend in Boston. But they didn’t.

They didn’t come to me as I pranced out of the Celtics stadium, celebrating because the Heat won.

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They didn’t come to me as I rode through New Hampshire with the sunroof open and the seagulls flying overhead in the wind.

Not when I sat down in that brunch place I’d been to two years prior. Not when I sat in traffic and watched a half-empty train push through the outskirts of Boston at midnight.
The words didn’t come to me in any of the places I thought they would attack me like a heatwave––overwhelming and sweltering, making me feel something from the inside out.
I found them suddenly in a New Hampshire church.

See, the Lord unexpectedly took me back to a lot of places last week––places I’d gone during my 22nd year, where I returned at 24 in a new phase of life with a new outlook on lots of things.

Dear diary: I came face-to-face with my past last week. Moreover, I stood before a theatre that, two years ago, I’d wandered into, absorbed the red velvet scenery, heard an orchestra playing behind the walls, and then joyfully ran out of.

I remember the moment in slow motion: a chill in the air, wearing jeans that are, nowadays, too tight. I’d pushed through the doors, briefly caught in the glow of the theatre lights outside, and then chased the moment through downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Two years ago, when I ran under the glow of those lights, I was briefly happy. Why? Because in that moment, I wasn’t surrounded by the things that I’d thought were the source of my joy. I’d been in a silent place of suffering. In fact, I was very, very lonely when I returned to the people around me, and for several months following.

Fast forward to last Sunday.

I stood in downtown Portsmouth, across the street from that theatre, debating whether I should run into it just to run right back out of it.

The truth is some memories don’t need to be remade and rewritten into a new story. (Don’t get me wrong––several of them do). But in the midst of re-seeing a lot of old places I’d been before as only a budding writer, I left that memory alone.

I left that memory running down the street on a cold May night.

So last Sunday, I glanced at the theatre for the last time––maybe for forever––and I caught up with my boyfriend down the sidewalk.

I grabbed onto his arm.

And, together, we walked elsewhere.