Tiny Paper Cranes

The clearest reminder of who I am and where I’m going are the memories I display on my dresser. An off center picture of my family hangs above it, and I put so many holes in the wall when I tried to hang the thing that I gave up and moved my dresser to the center of the frame instead. Taken at a a funeral, it’s one of the few pictures I’ve seen with my dad, aunt, uncle and grandparents all together. I’m not sure who in my family brought a camera to a funeral, but props to them for being prepared.  These slightly more robust versions of my family look down on a glass coke bottle holding synthetic purple flowers, a picture of me and my Auburn roommates in a field in black and white, a light bulb filled with salt, a picture drawn for me by my sister, and tiny paper cranes.

I collect unintentional memories and lessons from every place I live, and the learning from these tiny paper cranes is taking the longest.

In high school, the journalism room was my oasis, and I sulked in one particular day in a mood fit only for a melancholy teenage girl. I don’t remember if I was sad or suffering from an aversion to coffee, but my cloud was dark and my mood was darker. And I remember the tiny paper cranes.

I had a Jess back then, and he folded the cranes and we called them by name, because we were in high school and not grown up and that’s the sort of thing that not grown ups do. I picked each one up from his hands, and tossed them in the air, hoping that maybe, just maybe, they would fly. I identified with the tiny nose diving paper cranes.

It’s funny how time erases distant memories-even the ones we don’t choose to forget. I don’t remember our conversation, or how I ended that day, but I remember I drove home with the tiny paper cranes.

They sat on my cube shelves in Orlando, as I learned that physical distance isn’t the only kind that makes the heart grow fonder.

 When they sat back on my dresser in Mobile, and then in Auburn, they were the shadows I remembered of my not quite grown up high school self. I intermittently forgot them while I grew stronger.

I found them sulking in a drawer when unpacking my room in Nashville, so they keep watch on my dresser once again. They’re no longer a memory of myself, but a a friend I once knew and I’m learning,

as not-so grown ups do,

that I’m not the only one who can gather years and change.

You see, it wasn’t the memory of my old self but the memory of you I carried with me since high school-

a time capsule of tiny paper cranes.

And I hope you are unlike them in every way.

I hope you shake the world and stir up dust.

I hope your heart never fits inside a drawer,

and I hope when life is cold you always find someplace and somebody

to keep you warm.

But most of all,

I hope when your wings fight the air

that you fly anyway.

Because you can be so much more

than a tiny paper crane.

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