You’re Not Defined By Your Broken Moments

Izabela Pawlicka
Izabela Pawlicka

We can’t let ourselves be defined by the moments that hurt us the most, any more than we can leave a window broken to emphasize its shards. We don’t live with sharpness in our material world; why should we allow our hardest parts to infiltrate the rest? I choose to live in wholeness, to remember how we were, before we threw rocks at the safe world we’d created.

I remember young and stupid. The days I spent lying on your carpet while you played the same song over and over. I pretended you were playing it for me, my belly aching for your attention. Aching for confirmation that we meant something more than fingers on plastic ivory, than fingers tracing carpet patterns like I wanted to trace your face. Lies I told myself, because I didn’t know any better.

I remember driving home with beer between your legs, a pitcher we’d stolen from your uncle’s backyard party. The splash it made, dribbling into the plastic, your face shrouded in shadow except that Cheshire smile you flashed every time you got away with something. The earnest look on your face when you told the cop where you came from. Your uncle’s name a talisman against trouble bigger than our ambitions could fathom. The way I discarded a close call like a smelly sock, tossing fear over my shoulder like it didn’t hold a warning.

I remember gulping warm Bud Light straight from the pitcher at your mother’s empty house, tumbling down the hallway after a couple sips, feigning intoxication until it drowned us, because we didn’t know the line. Before we learned that chemicals are dangerous; the ones we consume, but more so, the ones already inside us. Reactions aren’t lab-bound, we learned, but formulas can be.

I remember your backyard, the feel of grass between my fingers and the gentle hum of tractors in the field next door, as your skateboard click-clacked over the half pipe your stepfather built out of affection, guilt or both. The way he left us a golf cart full of beer at your graduation party, his ramrod back as he walked away. What that meant to us. What that meant for him. And how we never thanked him, because at that invincible moment, the world owed us everything.

I hold onto those memories, because I’m not a broken window. I don’t live in the moments we shattered, the moments that followed like shards digging into our still-virgin skin. I remember beauty, because I choose to live in whole places, with the wisdom of perspective falling gossamer over the times we could have learned from. I live in hope that we can all find that moment of realization when we finally know we’re more than we were; that we’ve both become greater than the sum of our younger parts; and that we spend less and less time tracing our scars. TC mark

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