Song Feature: Wanting Memories
I first heard this song at a closing ceremony. It was a closing ceremony for what I will call here, this summer school for fun. Our choral group sang this. This version is the closest to what I heard in that auditorium.
This was the summer before my senior year in high school. It was and still is the best summer and time of my life. I’ve rattled on about how I’m an inquisitive person, and that was to my detriment socially. I say this though because I know being inquisitive is not something to be ashamed of, like I believed it was. At this summer school, everyone was inquisitive. And they were all my age. I’d never been in such an environment before.
There is nothing like feeling you belong.
For context, I was 17 and I was a veritable hot mess. In my junior year, I had a few mental breakdowns, but nothing that took away from my near-valedictorian grades. However, in my senior year, I had several breakdowns, which resulted in me almost flunking out of school. These breakdowns also resulted in my admission to a children’s psychiatric ward.
My senior year is the year my obsessive-compulsive disorder took center stage. And I had absolutely no understanding of it. I was convinced to the core that this meant I was schizophrenic like my grandmother.
Imagine a voice yelling through a megaphone horribly degrading, lewd thoughts. All this while you’re trying to think the instinctual thoughts to live and function in this world.
Among them these thoughts: “You’re a piece of shit.” “You should pick that up.” “Why even try? Just give in and kill yourself.”
These were never physical voices, and I never had hallucinations, so no psychiatrist diagnosed me with schizophrenia. These were all internal voices in my head — these voices weren’t me and they weren’t auditory. With that I also had small routines that then I was sure would keep me sane. With all this I was diagnosed with severe OCD.
This song is that the summer before my path in life became unmistakeably foggy. This song is the summer before I understood that my future would not be yet in my hands until almost two years later simply because my mental illness was an impediment to my family. This song is the summer where I felt comfortable approaching the world at my fingertips like a child at a globe. Now I look at that globe, years later, and thumb over it lovingly. There was a moment in time where I couldn’t approach the world without cowering in fear of my OCD and the opinions of my family.
This is one of the few songs that bring me to tears. In fact, I believe it is the only song that does that.
I remember being surrounded by people who never doubted me, what it was like to be encouraged to be yourself, even encouraged.
I guess I’m trying to search for that quietly wherever I find myself.
Right now that perfect summer is a memory. I understand it is a memory that is always with me and defines who I am as a person. It is a memory that gives me courage that maybe one day I’ll find another place, another person, another thing that embraces me the same. It is a memory that isn’t poisoned by my mental illness, where I was truly happy.
If I don’t ever come across this elusive environment, I have the peace that I experienced it all the same.
I can’t say that I was immediately confident in myself after attending this summer school for fun, but it started an irreversible snowball effect of me believing in myself. Without this summer school, I’m not sure there’d be any chance in me believing in myself now. I’m not sure there’d be any chance of me living past seventeen years.
I doubt I’ll ever feel a loving push like that again. But it is a goal in my life to come back and teach for this institution. At the very least, be a resident advisor for a hall. There are others out there who need this experience. It would be an honor for me to guide them through their journey. If I can get just one kid to understand they are not alone, ever, I could die happy.
“I think on the things that made me feel so wonderful when I was young. I think on the things that made me laugh, made me dance, made me sing. I think on the things that made me grow into a being full of pride. I think on these things, for they are true.”